Two more CNMI junior tennis players are joining the Pacific Oceania Touring Team to compete in Australia.
CNMI coach Jeff Race said Michael Ren and Chris Cajigan are leaving for the Land Down Under this week and will be reunited with fellow Commonwealth player Carol Lee. Lee left Saipan early this month to be with the elite touring team and spent the first few weeks competing and training in Melbourne.
“Carol did well in her first tournament in Australia. Now, it is Michael and Chris’s turn. Michael has been hitting the ball so strong the past few weeks and is very prepared for the tournament in Australia,” Race said in a telephone interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday.
“Chris is now based in Guam with his parents, but is still representing the CNMI. I have been in contact with his coach in Guam and I was told Chris is training so hard for the off-island tournament,” the CNMI mentor added.
The three CNMI players are scheduled to participate in two tournaments in the Land Down Under next year. First up for the Commonwealth bets is the 2014 Australia Post Margaret Court Cup, which will run from Jan. 3 to 7 at the Albury Grasscourts, in Albury, New Southwales. From Albury, the select squad will go to Victoria for the 2014 Victorian Junior Grasscourt Championships, which will take place at the Wodonga Tennis Centre from Jan. 8 to 12.
Meanwhile, Lee is now in Fiji as she waits for the tournament in Australia. She is training at the ITF facility at the Robin Mitchell Regional Training Centre in Lautoka. Tammy Ackerman, another CNMI junior player, is also at the training facility, according to Race.
Lee went to Fiji last week after a two-weeklong stay in Melbourne where she competed and trained at the National Tennis Centre. The 11-year-old Lee topped the consolation draw of girls U14 singles event of the 2013 Tennis World JT Bronze held at the Tennis World-Melbourne Park in Victoria.
Lee notched two wins against ranked foes in the qualifying tournament to advance to the main draw. She then prevailed in her opening match in the main draw before losing her second round assignment. Lee then bounced back and won her last four matches to make it to the podium.
The CNMI’s top U12 player, Ren, and Cajigan earned slots on the touring team after their notable performances in the 2013 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji in August this year. Lee took both the girls U12 singles and doubles crown (with Tania Tan) in the POJC, while Ren and Cajigan made it to the finals of the boys U12 and U15 singles, respectively.