Three CNMI junior tennis players had winning debuts in the 2013 Australia Post Margaret Court Cup.
Mikayla Lopez, Tammy Ackerman, and Negahr Rastguiy all prevailed in their first round matches in the doubles event of the four-day tournament at the Albury Grasscourts in Albury, New South Wales, Australia over the weekend.
Lopez teamed up with Samoa's Anastasia Tapusoa and the Pacific Oceania duo survived Australia's Micaela Mckimmie and Rose Taglieri in three sets of their U16 doubles tiff last Saturday morning. The visitors drew first blood, winning the opening set, 6-2, but missed the sweep when the host's bets recovered in the second set, 6-2. The third and deciding match was a neck-and-neck battle with Lopez and Tapusoa showing poise in the end and escaping with a 7-6 (7) victory.
With the win, Lopez and Tapusoa advanced to the quarterfinals, but unfortunately they fell to the top-ranked pair of Katherine Campbell and Megan Kauffman last Sunday evening, 4-8.
Sixteen-year-old Lopez also played in the U16 singles yesterday morning and pulled off an upset over the fourth-ranked Maddison Brackenreg. The CNMI player won the opening set by three points, 6-3, and then shut out her seeded foe in the second set, 6-0, for the easy win.
Next up for Lopez is fellow Pacific Oceania bet Lorish Puluspene of Papua New Guinea. Puluspene, who is seeded sixth in the U16 draw and eliminated Japan's Shino Kanno, 6-0, 6-1, faces Lopez today at 8am (9am Saipan time).
Ackerman and partner Charlotte Littlejohn of Australia also barged into the quarterfinals of the U14 doubles last Saturday after winning their first assignment. They dropped the opening set to fourth seed Bronte Argent and Samantha Nyika, 3-6, but grabbed the victory after sweeping the last two sets, 6-4, 7-6 (2).
Ackerman and Littlejohn were scheduled to duel Rastguiy and Palau's Ayana Rengiil in the Round of 8 yesterday evening, but results of the match were unavailable at press time. Rastguiy and Rengiil booked a quarterfinals berth, following their 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Anina Conradie and Maddison Stark.
Rastguiy had another match yesterday, as she was set to challenge Grace Josephine Buffham in the first round of the upper half of the U14 singles draw. Ackerman was also in the top half of the U14 singles draw and was pitted against the No. 7 seed Beatrice Hetrel. Results of both matches slated for 8am were unavailable at press time. (Saipan Tribune)