The CNMI's girls U15 and U12 team got off to a rousing start in the 2012 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships yesterday in Fiji.
Mikayla Lopez, Negahr Rastguiy, and Tammy Ackerman swept their first two games in the girls U15 singles, while Carol Lee and Isabel Heras also went 2-0 in Day 1 of the POJC, which is being played at the Dr. Robin Mitchell Regional Tennis Centre in Lautoka and the Nadi Sports Club in Nadi.
Duplicating the girls U15 and U12 team's perfect records in the opening day was boys U18's Rafael Jones.
Jones debuted against Fiji's Krishneel Kumar in Lautoka and nailed a straight set win, 7-5, 6-0, in the 8:30am match that lasted for only 42 minutes. Jones had his second match at 10am yesterday and he easily downed Cook Island's Roland Neuruer, 6-2, 6-1, to grab a share of the early lead with Vanuatu's Gregory Jacoby in the six-player Pool A.
Rastguiy is also in Pool A of the girls U15 singles draw and had a walk in the park in her first match of the day, beating the Solomon Islands' Georgimah Row, 6-0, 6-1. Rastguiy's second win was also a straight set one, as she swept New Caledonia's Olanza Matuu, 6-1, 6-4.
Joining Rastguiy in the early lead in Pool A of the girls U15 singles draw was teammate Lopez, who also did not drop a single set in the opening day of the Fiji tournament. Lopez, who advanced to the girls U15 semis last year, posted a 6-4, 6-0 triumph over Matuu and then kept her perfect record after a 6-1, 6-1 victory over American Samoa' s Charity Sagiao.
Last year's U12 champion Ackerman was a wild card entry in Pool B of the girls U15 draw and made her presence felt in the higher age group with an impressive 2-0 card. She dropped her the first set of her opening match against Palau's Ayana Rengiil, 4-6, but swept the last two sets, 6-2, 6-3, to win the almost three-hour match. In her second game at the RTC in Lautoka, Ackerman cruised past Fiji's Mulan Kamoe, 6-3, 6-4.
Over at the Nadi Sports Club, the Pool B top-seeded Lee debuted with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Fiji's Vienna Kumar. The CNMI bet was then paired against Guam's Kanasta Abrams and recorded a sterling 6-0, 6-0 victory.
Lee's teammate, Heras, is in Pool A and needed three sets to pull off a debut win over Papua New Guinea's Bianca Terra, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Her second match was an easier one, as Heras swept American Samoa's Blanchie Herrera, 6-2, 6-1.
Luther Lizama is also playing in the U12 age group and split his first two assignments. The lone CNMI entry to the boys U12 singles won his debut in the POJC after thwarting Kiribati's Lataisi Mwea, 6-3, 7-6 (3), before bowing to Tahiti's Reynald Taaroa, 4-6, 0-6, in the second match in Pool B.
Also recording a 1-1 slate in Day 1 was U18's Christian Miller, who is debuting in the highest age group of the POJC. The 17-year-old CNMI bet eked out a tough 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1 victory in his Pool B match over the Cook Islands' Tamarua Payne before dropping his second game of the day against Norkfolk Island's James Elliot, 5-7, 2-6.
Meanwhile, two other Commonwealth netters had rough starts in Fiji after faltering in their first two games.
Chris Cajigan went 0-2 in the boys U15 after losing to Christopher Shan, 7-5, 1-6, 3-6, and Kiribati's Tabera Bonteman, 0-6, 0-2. In the girls U18, Thea Minor bowed to Fiji's Annie Shannon, 2-6, 2-6, and Vanuatu's Lorraine Bainimataku, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6.