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2008 USTA Hawaii Pacific Tennis Hall of Fame

October 11, 2008 07:19 PM

Congratulations, Bob!  We're so proud of you.

Keaunui, 72, was inducted in the non-player category, but he is responsible for all kinds of Hawai'i tennis players. When he retired from the Army in 1975 he began offering free tennis lessons to kids at Kailua District Park. He has since branched out to public parks in Kane'ohe, Waimanalo, Kahalu'u and Hau'ula and now works with hundreds of kids and adults every year, almost everyday.

"I like money," Keaunui said, "but the thing about it is I'm retired military. Sometimes I play music and get money. I felt like a lot of kids couldn't afford it, especially in Waimanalo and Kahalu'u. Right now we've got a program working the whole year in Hau'ula, so it's great."

Fees are now nominal but Keaunui's basic kindness makes him an easy mark for any kid who can't cover the cost, doesn't have a racket, tournament and league fees or a ride home. He grew up watching Shigesh Wakida work wonders for tennis kids in Lahaina and has fine-tuned Wakida's magical way of keeping many, many kids moving and involved in a small space.

His teams usually go by "Bob's Mob" and the kids often grow up to dominate leagues, play for schools - more than 20 of Keaunui's kids were in the 2006 state high school championship - and colleges. He started with Rosie (Vera Cruz) Bareis, one of the finest players ever to come out of Hawai'i, and now works with kids of his former kids.

"He is a coach, as well as a coach's coach," wrote Waialae director of tennis Randy Kop, whose three kids work with Keaunui. "He earns respect because he demonstrates respect, regardless of age, level of play, so-called status or reputation."

Excerpt from Honolulu Advertiser article 9/26/08 by Ann Miller, staff writer. Click here to read full text. Use your browser back < button to return to this website.