The CNMI Junior Tennis Team is just one semis seat away from duplicating its performance in last year's Pacific Oceania Junior Championships.
Pending the Day 3 results of the tournament being played at the Dr. Robin Mitchell Regional Tennis Centre in Lautoka and the Nadi Sports Club in Nadi, the Jeff Race-coached squad has already secured five semis berths. Last year, six Commonwealth players advanced to the Final Four of the annual tournament and days before leaving for Fiji Race said they are hoping to duplicate if not surpass their record in 2011.
Already assured of semis seats in the girls U15 singles were Mikayla Lopez, Negahr Rastguiy and Tammy Ackerman, while Isabel Heras and Carol Lee had already advanced to the Final Four of the girls U12 singles.
Lopez and Rastguiy held identical 4-0 records after Day 2 of the single-round robin elimination of Pool A last Tuesday and they were scheduled to collide in the final pool play match yesterday. Regardless of the results of the all-CNMI game yesterday, Lopez and Rastguiy were already in the semis as they finished in the Top 2 in their group.
Pending yesterday's results, the Top 2 finishers in Pool A have yet to drop a single set in the tournament and hold similar 36-6 records (games won and loss).
Ackerman, who is in Pool B, held a 3-0 card after last Tuesday's games and was set to meet the top seed Anastasia Tapusoa (3-0) yesterday. After Day 2 in Fiji, Ackerman has only drop one set and won six and holds a 40-20 record. She is likely to join Tapusoa (6-0 sets won/loss mark, 36-7/games won/loss record) to the next round, as the third-running Vinda Teally has only 1-2 record (matches won/loss) after Day 2.
In the girls U12 singles, Heras owned a 4-0 card, 8-1 sets won/loss slate, and 52-22 games won/loss mark for an outright semis spot in Pool A. Heras was scheduled to face top-ranked Ruby Coffin in the final pool play yesterday.
Lee is in Pool B and also earned a perfect 4-0 mark after last Tuesday's games. She and Heras have to finish first in their respective groups to avoid an early CNMI semis collision. The top-seeded Lee has yet to drop a single set in four matches and was set to square off against second-ranked Emma Maucotel yesterday. Lee has won 49 games and lost only 10.
In the boys U18 division, Raphael Jones (3-1) was scheduled to duel Nicholas Lesturgie (3-1) and a win would have advanced him to the semifinals, joining Pool A leader Gregory Jacobe (4-0).
In Pool B, Christian Miller (2-1) was tied with James Elliot after last Tuesday's games and a former's victory over Heve Kelley yesterday coupled with Elliot's loss to Tito Tebatibunga would have put the CNMI bet to the Final Four.
Thea Minor and Christian Cajigan are out of the semis race in the girls U18 and boys U15 after posting 0-4 and 1-3 cards, respectively in Day 2 of the POJC.
Yesterday's pool play and semis results were not posted at the POJC website and an email to tournament official Gene Ridgway asking for the latest development in Fiji has yet to be returned at press time last night.