Tennis swept the Tan Siu Lin Foundation/NMASA Student Athletes of the Month awards for August as junior players Mikayla Lopez and Luther Lizama were selected winners of the coveted plum.
Both awardees earned NMASA's nods for their impressive showing in the 2012 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships played in Fiji last month. The two junior players were part of the North Pacific Team and competed in the girls U15 and boys U12 singles and doubles events.
Lopez went on to clinch both the singles and doubles crowns in POJC to finish in the Pacific ranked No. 1 in her age group. She prevailed against 10 other players from more 10 nations that competed in the annual tournament.
In the singles event, the 15-year-old Lopez defeated Negahr Rastguiy in the all-CNMI finals, 6-1, 6-2. Then in the doubles, Lopez teamed up with Rastguiy and the two Commonwealth bets downed the pair of CNMI player Tammy Ackerman and Palau's Ayana Rengiil in the finals, 9-4.
In her singles and doubles title conquest, Lopez never dropped a single set in POJC and was later given a slot to the main draw of the 2012 Oceania Closed Junior Championships-a Junior ITF ranking tournament.
Lopez joined Rastguiy and Thea Minor in the B2 event of the Junior ITF Circuit and although the former lost her opening match in the main draw, she managed to stun a favored foe in the consolation group. Lopez pulled off an upset over Papua New Guinea's Lorish Puluspene, who has been training at the regional facility in Fiji for the past two years. Puluspene won the opening set, 7-5, but Lopez swept the last two, 6-4, 10-5, to beat the PNG bet.
Lizama debuted in the POJC and only missed making it into the semifinals by a hair. He finished with a 2-2 record in the pool play, just one win short of making the grade in the Final Four. However, he managed to top the consolation draw and finished No. 5 out of 11 players when he defeated Cook Islands' Elijah Amataiti, 6-2, 7-6 (5) and Vanuatu's Julien Pineda, 6-3, 6-4.
After the POJC, Lizama competed in the ITF Oceania Plate 2012 and this time he claimed a semis ticket in the Junior Boys division. Lizama also had a 2-2 record in pool play in the Oceania Plate and made it to the Final Four after winning the three-way tie for the second and last playoff berth.