The CNMI’s Carol Lee is being considered for an elite program for top junior tennis players in the Pacific.
Jeff Race, president of the Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association and Lee’s coach, announced the good news during the Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association meeting early this month at the conference room of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
According to Race, ITF director of Development Frank Couraud watched Lee play in the 2013 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji last month and he was very impressed with the 11-year-old player.
“Carol’s outstanding performance caught the eye of Frank, who is planning to begin an elite training program for the top players in the Pacific in Australia. He wants Carol to be on the group,” Race said.
“This kind of opportunity encourages our players to train harder, improve their skills, and do their best in every tournament. It’s an honor for the CNMI to have player considered in the elite program,” he added.
If the facility is set up in Australia and Lee agrees on joining the select group, she will join the short list of CNMI players that were given opportunities to train off-island. Ji Hoon Heo and Thea Minor trained in the Oceania Tennis Federation regional facility in Fiji for several days in their early years in junior tennis, while Tammy Ackerman spent almost a year in the same training center.
Lee impressed the ITF official after winning both the singles and doubles division of the U12 age group in the POJC. She defeated Tahiti’s Naia Guitton in the singles finals, 6-1, 6-1, and then partnered with Tania Tan in downing Guitton and Lea Lamorelle in the doubles finale, 6-0, 6-4. The Pacific’s No. 12 player made it to the finals without dropping a single match. She won all five games in pool play and recorded four victories via loves in the elimination.
After the POJC, Lee participated in the 2013 ITF Oceania Plate and played against much older foes. She went on to march into the semifinals of the girls senior division before losing to fellow CNMI player Negahr Rastguiy.
Lee’s notable showing in the two tournaments in Fiji last month earned her the Tan Siu Lin Foundation/NMASA Female Student Athlete of the Month (for August) award.