The CNMI Junior Team Team continued to put on a strong showing in the 2012 North Pacific Qualifying Tournament in Guam after nine of its players swept the elimination round and 17 made it to the semifinals.
In the girls U12, Carol Lee and Isabel Heras ruled Pool A and B, respectively, after posting similar 5-0 records. The two also advanced to the semifinal round, which will be an all-CNMI affair, as Julia Ishikawa also booked a Final Four ticket after placing second in Pool B with a 4-1 card, beating teammate Amik Tsukagoshi (3-2). Mimi Sakano and Elizaveta Atalig had identical 3-1 slates after Day 3 of the competition last Wednesday and was scheduled to battle for the last semis seat yesterday at the Rick Ninete Tennis Centre in Tamuning.
In the girls U15, Mikayla Lopez and Emily Jones clinched the two semis berths in Pool A with the former earning a perfect 4-0 card and the latter gaining a 3-1 record. Negahr Rastguiy is likely to join her two CNMI teammates in the semis, as she held a 3-0 record after Day 3 and was set to face Palau's Ayana Rengiil in the last Pool B game yesterday.
In the girls U18, the Commonwealth also has a 1-2 finish in Pool A with Thea Minor nailing an immaculate 5-0 card and Melody Johnson coming in next with a 4-1 slate. Joining the two in the semis were teammate Theecel Minor (3-1) and Pool B top finisher Palau's Abigail Gbewonyo.
Some semis games in the girls division were played yesterday, but results were unavailable at press time.
Meanwhile, in the boys division, Rafael Jones ruled Pool B of the U18 age group with a clean 5-0 record to barge into the semifinals, along with teammates Jake Lee and Christian Miller. Lee earned Pool B's second-best record (4-1), losing to Jones, while the top-seeded Miller settled for second in Pool A with his similar 4-1 card after bowing to Guam's Christian Penafiel (5-0).
In the U15 division, Seiya Eda and Chris Cajigan topped Pool B and D with their similar 3-0 cards, while Moris Villanueva and Tommy Choi held identical 2-1 cards for runner-up honors in Pool A and C, respectively. All four CNMI netters then made it to the quarterfinals.
In the Round of 8, Cajigan was paired against Villanueva and won, 6-4, 6-3, to claim a semis ticket and will face Guam's David Okuhama. Choi also marched into the Final Four against Derek Okuhama, following a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 upset over Eda.
In the U12, CNMI coach Jeff Race also had two semis entries in Michael Ren and Vincent Tudela.
Ren was undefeated in Pool A after three games and continued his streak after downing Palau's Ubai Kingzio in the quarterfinals, 6-1, 6-1. Tudela finished only second in Pool B with his 2-1 card, but made it to the semis after stunning Pool C top finisher and teammate Luther Lizama in the quarterfinals, 7-5, 6-1. Guam's Gabriel Tan and Mason Caldwell completed U12's Final Four.
This year's NPQ will conclude today with CNMI, Palau, FSM, and Guam battling for spots on the North Pacific Team that will compete in the 2012 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Lautoka, Fiji this August.
North Pacific Team slots will be given to the Top 2 finishers in the boys and girls U18 and Top 4 in both the boys and girls U12 and U15 age groups.