The Oceania Tennis Federation has cancelled this year’s North Pacific Regional Championships in Guam as well as the Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Lautoka, Fiji due to COVID-19, according to Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association president Jeff Race.
“I received notice from the OTF this week that all three of the regional championships as well as the North Pacific Junior Championships have been canceled this year due to COVID. We are very disappointed but not surprised by the decision as many Pacific nations are still experiencing high COVID levels, are locked down, or are just coming out of severe outbreaks of the disease. The OTF has stated that they are planning to get back to a more normal schedule in 2022,” he said.
Race said he was informed of the cancellations of both the NPRC and POJC by OTF executive director Richard Breen.
“After discussing with [co-executive director] David [Smith] and the [International Tennis Federation] along with the recent cancellation of the West Pacific and East Pacific and cancellation of the subsequent POJC, the North Pacific will also be cancelled for 2021. I know this is disappointing but with the realities of travel and the responses we have received we have decided to err on the side of caution,” Breen said in a letter to Race.
The non-playing captain of this year’s Pacific Oceania team in the Davis Cup is looking forward to a restart of tennis tournaments in the region next year.
“Hopefully the update for travel from your respective nations looks more promising in 2022. Please can I get a further update on your respective border closures and potential travel as we look to arrange new dates for the Regionals in 2022. We intend these to be as early as reasonably possible. Hopefully we can realistically have them within the first quarter, as this will enable us to make touring team selections early on and plan for these teams to travel and provide some much needed opportunities to compete,” said Breen.
Junior netters, who just a week prior were announced to be part of the CNMI’s 28-player team to the NPRC, were obviously disappointed with the cancellation of both off-island tournaments.
“I am extremely sad that players like Serin [Chung], David [Kwon], and all the other younger players will not be able to play again this year. This tournament is the only way for players in the Pacific to receive more opportunities so for this tournament to be canceled again is disappointing,” said Jimin Woo.
Cody Shimizu seconded Woo, but added that he understood the situation with COVID-19 still raging.
“Yes it’s disappointing they had to cancel it again but I understand the situation. With COVID around it will be hard to travel and play with the other participants. Hopefully we will get to play there soon.”
Serin Chung said she’s crossing her fingers that the NPRC and POJC will return next year.
“I am disappointed since the NPRC was also canceled last year and I was really looking forward to go this year. It’s always fun to go off-island and play against people I normally don’t play against. Hopefully, the NPRC will not get canceled next year.”
Hye Jin Elliott said all her hard work during practice sessions is now for naught.
“I am disappointed because the NPRC has been cancelled many times. We have been practicing and we were looking forward to the competition.”
Savita Sikkel shared the same sentiment. “I was looking forward to playing the NPRC this year in Guam and am very disappointed it was cancelled again this year.”
Sam Ryu was really sad to hear that the NPRC has been cancelled again this year. “It’s extremely tragic news for the qualifiers on Saipan. I hope next year the tournament will proceed as soon as possible so that everyone can play tennis without worrying about future tennis tournaments being cancelled. I hope that COVID will be gone, too.”
Sean Lee, for his part, reasoned that during the pandemic it’s of utmost importance that the safety of the community comes first before any tennis tournament.
“This is particularly true as many of the locations where the tennis tournaments were to occur have rather limited ability and capacity to take care of COVID-19 patients. As such it would be inappropriate to have any sports tournaments which encourage the spread of this virus as a wide range of athletes from different places perform in these tournaments. Although it is unfortunate that this tournament must be canceled the tournament organizer did their community a solid by thinking of the community’s health as the main concern,” he said.