Coach of the Year Jeff Race shared his award to parents of CNMI tennis players.
“I would like to recognize the presence of the our players' parents tonight. I am sharing this Coach of the Year award to them for making a lot of sacrifices to ensure that their children get to play the sport they love and be good at it,” Race said after accepting the NMASA 2012 Coach of the Year plum from Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos last Wednesday night at the Seaside Hall of Kanoa Resort.
Though Race said learning how to play tennis is not expensive as other may think, he admitted sending players to off-island competitions is and raising funds for these events could be a challenge to parents, especially at these trying times. The CNMI coach added bringing players to competition/practice venues and picking them up several times in a week also show the parents' unwavering support to their children.
“Thank you for your tireless effort and sacrifices,” said Race.
The 2012 win in the Coach of the Year race ended Race's four-year quest for his fourth plum, not second as earlier reported. He won the coveted award first in 2001, had his second in 2003, and third in 2007. With his four awards, Race, who also won the 1992 Male Athlete of the Year, has the most Coach of the Year awards from NMASA. Athletics and basketball's Elias Rangamar has three (2004, 2008, and 2009), while CNMI Hall of Famer Tony Rogolifoi owns two, winning back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 before Race ended his streak.
“I am very proud of this accomplishment. I hope to win it every year because that means our tennis players get to play great tennis every year, too,” Race said with a big laugh in a brief phone interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday.
Race, after receiving his fourth award, boasted the CNMI's domination in the North Pacific Qualifier for the past several years. He said the Commonwealth players won 11 of the 12 championships (five of the six singles crowns and sweep in doubles) in NPQ held in Guam. Then in the Pacific Oceania Junior Champions in Fiji, the CNMI also had the most semifinalists with four.
“I hope our players get better and better every year,” said Race, who was joined by his players at the awards ceremony as they also dominated NMASA' monthly honor roll.
The list includes Thea Minor, Luther Lizama, Michael Ren, Robbie Schorr, Negahr Rastguiy, and Mikayla Lopez, who eventually took the NMASA/TSL Foundation Female Student Athlete of the Year for winning the monthly plum three times and finishing at the No. 1 spot in the U15 division of the POJC.