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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lopez, Rastguiy reach semis

Mikayla Lopez, seen here in a file photo from a local tournament, advanced to the girls U16 singles semis of the 2013 Australia Post Margaret Court Cup held over the weekend in New South Wales, Australia. (Saipan Tribune) The CNMI’s Mikayla Lopez and Negahr Rastguiy marched into the semifinal round of their respective events in the 2013 Australia Post Margaret Court Cup.

Lopez made it to the semis of the girls U16 singles event of the competition being held at the Albury Grasscourts in Albury, New South Wales, Australia, while Rastguiy advanced to the Final Four of the girls’ U14 doubles contest with partner Ayana Rengiil of Palau.

Two victories in the 32-player main draw gave Lopez the semis ticket. She drew a bye in the first round and then debuted with a 6-3, 6-0 upset over fourth-ranked Maddison Brackenreg last Sunday. Lopez defeated another seeded foe when she swept Papua New Guinea’s and No. 6 seed Lorish Puluspene in the quarterfinals yesterday morning, 6-3, 7-5.

The CNMI bet may have won over Puluspene after only two sets, but their match lasted two tiring hours, leaving Lopez with only a few minutes rest for her second consecutive game of the day. The 16-year-old Commonwealth player went for her third straight win and a finals berth, but fell short when she lost to Australia’s Rose Taglieri in a three-set duel that was played for two hours and 10 minutes. The host easily won the opening set, 6-1, but Lopez remained in contention after pulling off a 7-5 victory in the second set. Taglieri went on to end Lopez’s streak with a 6-3 win in the deciding third set. Taglieri will go for the U16 singles crown against Megan Kauffman today at 9:30am (8:30am Saipan time), while Lopez will duel No. 5 seed Maggie Snowdon in the battle for third place at the same time on Court 10.

Duplicating Lopez’ semis stint in the Post Margaret Court Cup was Rastguiy, as the latter and teammate Rengiil notched back-to-back wins over the weekend to stay in the hunt for a finals seat in the girls U14 doubles. Rastguiy and Rengiil eliminated Australia’s Anina Conradie and Maddison Stark last Saturday, 6-1, 6-1, and then topped Tammy Ackerman and Charlotte Littlejohn last Sunday, 8-3, to clinch a semis berth in the 14-team field.

In the semis, the Pacific Oceania tandem was scheduled to challenge the top-ranked pair of Alana Bourgeois and Lauren Smileski of Australia yesterday afternoon. The other semis pairing pitted No. 3 seed Stephanie Pang and Lara Slisko against Annabel Jaskiewicz and Chorlida Kang.

Meanwhile, Rastguiy and Ackerman also joined the U14 singles event, but dropped their opening games in the main draw to fall to the consolation bracket. Ackerman bowed to seventh-ranked Beatrice Hetrel, 3-6, 1-6, while Rastguiy lost to No. 1 seed Lauren Smileski, 1-6, 1-6.

Ackerman and Rastguiy made up for their early losses in the consolation draw with the former advancing to the semis and the latter barging into the quarterfinals. Ackerman downed Australia’s Bronte Argent, 8-3, and New Caledonia’s Laurent Amanda, 8-4, to march into the quarterfinals. The Fiji-based Ackerman then recorded her third win in a row after ousting Annabel Jaskiewicz, 8-4, to set up a semis tiff against Stark in the top half draw today at 8am.

In the lower half of the consolation bracket, Rastguiy defeated Bonnie Usher, 8-4, but missed a semis slot after losing to Tayla Garratt in her next game, 5-8. (Saipan Tribune)

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