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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lee faces tougher test in Australia

Carol Lee, seen here returning a shot to Tania Tan during the 2013 North Pacific Regional Championships in June this year at the PIC tennis courts, left Saipan last Sunday to compete in Australia. (Roselyn B. Monroyo) CNMI junior tennis player Carol Lee will be put to a tougher test when she competes in a series of tournaments in Australia this month and next year.

Lee left Saipan last Sunday to join the ITF Touring Team that will participate in tournaments in Melbourne and in Wodonga and Albury in Victoria. She is the CNMI’s lone representative to the elite selection and is joined by Palau’s Ayana Rengiil.

CNMI coach Jeff Race said Lee and other members of the team are sent to Australia after their impressive showings in tournaments in New Zealand for the past few years. The 11-year-old Lee debuted in the 2012 Waikato Christmas Junior Open in Hamilton and made it to the finals of the girls U12 singles and semis in the doubles (with Isabel Heras). Lee also joined the 2012 Tennis Auckland Christmas Junior Tournament where she posted a perfect 6-0 record in pool play before settling for a third place finish in the girls U12 singles.

“Carol had an outstanding performance in New Zealand and this year she has to play even better as the level of play in the tournaments in Australia is much higher compared to New Zealand’s. Plus, this trip will be a good opportunity for Carol to show ITF and Tennis Australia that she has what it takes to join an elite training program,” Race said.

The CNMI coach said ITF is planning on putting up a training program outside the training facility in Fiji for U12 players and Lee was being considered for the pilot after her notable performance in the 2013 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships. Lee was unbeaten in POJC en route to clinching the girls U12 singles crown in the annual tournament. She also took the gold medal in the girls U12 doubles, teaming up with Tania Tan.

“The ITF people were impressed with Carol and they will be looking at her again when she plays in Australia. Carol has been training so hard for the past few months and is getting help from this father, so I think she is coming to Australia well prepared,” Race said.

“ITF is committed in assisting our players in the Pacific that’s why it is planning on having a training program for U12 players. This is Carol’s chance to prove she belongs to the elite level of players,” Race added.

After competing in the tournaments in Melbourne and watching a few matches in the Australian Open, Lee will go to Fiji to have a two-week session at the Junior ITF training facility. She will then return to the Land Down Under to compete in the Margaret Court Cup and Victoria Junior Grass Court Championships in January. She will be back on Saipan third week of January.

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