Third time's the charm for Rafael Jones, who claimed the men's open title in the 4th Annual Tan Holdings Tennis Classic held over the weekend at the various courts on Saipan.
Jones, who was eliminated in the first round of his men's open debut in the annual tournament in 2010 and bowed to eventual champion Todd Montgomery in the semifinals last year, this time brought home the crown after sweeping Dong Min Lee in the finals yesterday at the American Memorial Park tennis courts, 6-2, 6-2.
Lee and Jones arranged their championship showdown after getting free finals tickets last Saturday. Lee won by default over Christian Miller, who decided not to play his late night semis game last Saturday due to fatigue. Thea Minor also played several games last Saturday and was a no-show in her 7pm semis duel against Jones.
With a free pass in the semis and a straight sets win in the finals, the real test for Jones was his first match against the top-ranked and last year's finalist Bobby Cruz. The 18-year-old netter dropped the opening set, 3-6, but stunned his seeded foe with a 6-2, 6-3 win in the last two sets last Friday, also at AMP.
The two other games in the men's open last Friday had close results with Minor surviving Russel Buenaventura, 7-6 (10-8), 6-7, 10-8, and Miller slipping past Lope Padilla, 4-6, 6-3, 10-8.
In other adults singles results, Mikayla Lopez, Guam's Brian Tuncap, Don Castillo, Bong Gamab, and Carol Lee topped their respective divisions.
Lopez prevailed in the round-robin women's open singles after beating Thea Minor, 4-6, 6-3, 10-6, and Guam's Camdyn Nadler, 6-1, 6-1.
In the women's 4.0 singles, Carol Lee won the battle of junior players after edging Isabel Heras at the AMP court last Sunday, 6-0, 6-2. Lee advanced to the finals after eliminating Emily Jones, 6-1, 6-1, and top seed Lydia Tan, 6-3, 3-6, 10-6. Heras drew a bye in the first round and then thwarted Kinumi Taniguchi in the semis, 6-3, 6-4 to set a finals tiff with Lee.
Tuncap, who was ousted in the semis in the boys U15 singles, did not return to Guam empty-handed, as he clinched the men's 4.0 singles title. Brian first swept Michael Ren, 6-2, 6-2, and then pulled off an upset over No. 1 seed Buddy Garote, 6-3, 6-2, before defeating older brother Victor in the finals, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, last Sunday at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan court.
Castillo also swept finals foe Steven Boyer at the AMP court, 6-1, 6-1, to take the men's 3.0 crown last Sunday. Boyer made it to the title game after stunning top-ranked Jaime Hagos in the semis, 6-4, 7-5, while Castillo also eliminated seeded opponent Romulo Padoro, 6-4, 6-2.
The men's 40-and-above singles finals went the distance with Gamab outlasting Kentaro Imaya at the Fiesta court last Sunday, 7-5, 5-7, 10-8. Gamab automatically marched into the semis after getting a bye in the first round and barged into the finale, following a 6-1, 6-0 win over Gabriele Colombo in the upper half of the draw. In the lower half, the second-seeded Imaya also got a bye in the first round and took the second finals berth after defeating Gary Ramsey, 6-0, 6-2.