CNMI junior tennis players Thea Minor and Christian Miller gained entry to the main draw of the 2012 Oceania Closed Junior Championships that will be played in Fiji this month.
The 16-year-old Minor is among the 28 players listed in the main draw of the girls U18 competition of the Junior ITF-sanctioned event. The Aug. 13 to 17 tournament is a B2 event under the Junior ITF Circuit. A grade B2 event awards 120 Junior ITF points to the champion, 80 to the runner-up, 60 to semifinalists, 40 to quarterfinalists, 25 to the losers in the Last 16, and 10 to the losers in the Last 32 of a 64-player draw.
Minor was in the same tournament last year, but failed to claim her first Junior ITF ranking points after bowing to Australia's Celine Lenertz in the opening round, 1-6, 0-6. The CNMI netter's first round opponent this year has yet to be announced as the 32-player draw has yet to be completed with 27 others still left to battle for the four remaining wild card entries.
The Saipan Southern High School student, who left the island early this month and will arrive in Fiji from Australia tomorrow, is one of the four unranked players who made it to the main draw of the girls singles. The three other unranked netters in the main draw were New Zealand's Chanista Ampornachariya, Australia's Claudia Furdi, and Papua New Guinea's Lorish Puluspene.
Australia's Brooke Rischbieth is the highest rank player in the field with her No. 133 Junior ITF ranking, followed by compatriots Georgina Ruhrig (No. 143), Danielle Wagland (No. 154), Naiktha Bains (No. 175), and Ellen Perez (No. 203). Other players earning main draw slots in the Junior ITF event were from New Zealand, PNG, Fiji, and New Caledonia, while players from Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Chinese-Taipei, and China will still fight for wild card berths.
Like Minor, Miller also notched a main draw ticket to the Oceania Closed for the second straight year.
Miller, who lost to Australia's Andrew Harris, 0-6, 1-6, in his Junior ITF debut, is one of the six unranked players to make the main draw. He joins Tahiti's Nicolas Lesturgie and Heve Kelley, Vanuatu's Gregory Jacobe, Norfolk Island's James Elliot, and Australia's Jack Lyttle. New Zealand's Cameron Norrie is the top-seeded player in the field with his No. 91 ranking. Australia dominated the main draw, which has only 28 players and will have to wait for four wild card entries.
CNMI coach Jeff Race said he hopes Rafael Jones will get one of those wild card seats. Jones played in the same tournament last year, but was entered in the doubles competition, teaming up with Miller. The Commonwealth pair went on to bow to Australia's Jacob Grills and James Sheppard in the first round, 0-6, 3-6.