Three CNMI junior players competed in their second tournament in New Zealand and survived the opening games in the 2012 Tennis Auckland Xmas Junior Tournament.
Luther Lizama went 2-0 in Day 1 of the tournament being played at the Manukau Tennis Centre in Auckland, while Isabel Heras and Carol Lee prevailed in their respective opening games in the U12 singles yesterday morning.
Lizama was first pitted against Jackson Edward Chambers and swept his foe, 6-1, 6-1, and the former was also rewarded with a walkover win over James Robert Sim. The lone CNMI male player in New Zealand is in Group F of the 32-player field and will need at least one more win to boost his chances for the Round of 16. Only the Top 2 players in each of the eight pools will make it to the second round.
Next up for Lizama will be seventh-seeded Hikaru Iizuka, who also held a 2-0 mark in Day 1. Lizama and the Iizuka collides today at 1:30pm (4:30pm Saipan time) and then the former will have his last game tomorrow against the No. 11 pick Augusto Filippo La Cava.
In the girls U12, Heras also triumphed in her opening game after only two sets. She defeated Lilia Meeth Jerry in the Group B match, 6-1, 6-1. The 12-year-old Commonwealth bet had only game in Day 1 and she needed all the rest she could get yesterday, as she will be playing three matches today.
Heras' first game will be at 8am against second-seeded Holly Stewart. Then after two hours, Heras faces No. 7-ranked Courtney Eva Huff. The CNMI player concludes her busy schedule today with a 1:30pm date against Meraul Loibl, while the former will have her last game tomorrow morning versus Carys Elisabeth Robson. Only the Top 2 finishers in Heras' group will earn quarterfinals tickets.
In Group B, which has seven players, Lee made short work of Jemima Mary Parkinson, 6-1, 6-1. Lee, who advanced to both the girls U12 singles and doubles finals of a tournament in Waikato last week, will try to keep her impressive performance in New Zealand today when she plays two games this morning. The 11-year-old duels Imogen Renee Rodgers at 9:30am and then battles Kendra Paea at 11:30am. Lee's three other pool play matches will be against No. 4 seed Tharubphet Homkrun, No. 5 Sophie Rose Michl, and the unranked Nancy Fatai.
Lee and company are in New Zealand, competing in junior tournaments as members of the Pacific Oceania Touring Team. They earned slots on the elite squad after their impressive performance in the 2012 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji in August this year. (Saipan Tribune)