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Saturday, April 19, 2014

2nd Aussie tourney awaits junior players

Mikayla Lopez, seen here during the 2012 Micronesian Junior Tennis Championships, and three other CNMI junior players will be competing in the 2013 Victorian Junior Grasscourt Championships in Victoria, Australia next week. (Saipan Tribune) Christian Miller, Tammy Ackerman, Negahr Rastguiy, and Mikayla Lopez will make a stop in Victoria, Australia for their second and final tournament in the Land Down Under.

The four CNMI junior tennis players are entered in the 2013 Victorian Junior Grasscourt Championships, which will run from Jan. 9 to 13 at the Wodonga Tennis Centre. Miller and company are currently in Albury, New South Wales awaiting their opening matches both in the singles and doubles events in the 2013 Australia Post Margaret Court Cup that will start today and end on Monday.

In Victoria, Miller is among the 70 players joining the AMT (Australian Money Tournaments) men’s singles and is likely to compete in the qualifying draw first to make it the 32-player main draw. He will also join the AMT doubles with partner Nicholas Lestergie. AMT, according to Tennis Australia’s website, are semi-pro tournaments designed to assist with the junior to senior transition.

Miller will be competing in the Victorian Junior Grasscourt Championships for the second straight time after posting an even 3-3 record in the same event last year. He swept his two qualifying matches in 2012, beating Beau Pleming, 7-5, 6-2, and Lachlan Skinner, 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, before dropping his opening game in the main draw against Damien Minguez, 4-6, 2-6. Miller also fell to Bernard Richter in the consolation draw, 3-6, 3-6.

In the doubles, Miller and teammate Teba Tito of Kiribati won over Trafford McCrory and Skinner, 6-3, 3-6, 14-12. The Pacific Oceania tandem then lost to Reegan Brown and Tyson Daly in the second round, 5-7, 5-7.

Counting Miller’s record in Victoria and the results of his games in the 2012 Post Margaret Court Cup, the 17-year-old player earned rankings points (6) in Tennis Australia and will play in the two tournaments in the Land Down Under ranked No. 2,216.

Ackerman is ranked No. 1,249 after gaining 5.75 points from her stints in Victoria and NSW last year. She finished sixth in the girls U12 singles in Victoria, posting a 3-2 record in her event. She won over Kirsten Waters and seeded players Taylah Mielczarek (No. 5) and Natasha Van Bemmel (No. 8) and bowed to No. 4 pick Peta Valos and No. 7 Kaitlin Staines. In doubles, Ackerman and Jazmin Starr made it to the quarterfinals after downing Jovana Stanisic and Mia Vukicevic.

This year, the Fiji-based Ackerman is moving up to the U14 singles and doubles. She is among the 27 players entered in the singles main draw and will partner with Emma Adelaide Graham in the 14-team doubles event.

Meanwhile, both Lopez and Rastguiy are first-timers in the Victorian Junior Grasscourt Championships. Lopez will be playing in the U16 singles event with 15 other players from Australia, Japan, Papua New Guinea, American Samoa, and Fiji. In doubles, she will team up with American Samoa’s Anastasia Tapusoa. Rastguiy will join Ackerman in the U14 singles main draw and then play together with Palau’s Ayana Rengiil in the doubles. (Saipan Tribune)

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