Yes, you’re reading it right. The CNMI won three gold medals in the XVI Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa. Thanks to the Commonwealth’s tennis players.
Colin Sinclair ruled the men’s singles event and then teamed up with Carol Lee in topping the mixed doubles play last Saturday, bringing the CNMI’s total gold medal haul to three. Sinclair, Ken Song, and Robbie Schorr earlier in the first week of the competition took the gold medal in the men’s team event. Sinclair and Schorr then added a silver to CNMI’s record after a runner-up finish in the men’s doubles last weekend.
“Did we really win three gold medals and a silver? If I’m dreaming, don’t wake me up,” CNMI head coach Jeff Race said moments after Lee and Sinclair closed out the competition with a come-from-behind win in the finals against Pacific’s No.1 singles player and Women’s Tennis Association veteran Abigail Tere-Apisah and and her partner, Matthew Stubbings of Papua New Guinea.
The CNMI pair had a heartbreaker in the first set with the PNG bets escaping with a 7-6 victory. In the second set, Sinclair and Lee came back with a vengeance, taking a 6-3 win. Then in the deciding super tiebreaker third set, it appeared that Stubbings and Tere-Apisah were regaining their bearings and set to spoil the party for the CNMI duo. However, Lee and Sinclair showed poise in the end and rallied on several occasions to steal the gold medal.
“Everyone is on cloud nine here. We wall wanted Colin and Carol to win so much. It didn’t look good early in the super tiebreaker, but the NMI fought back to take the gold,” Race said.
Lee and Sinclair, who had to eliminate the Cook Islands’ Brett Baudinet and Tamara Anderson, 7-5, 6-3, in the semis match last Saturday morning to move to the gold medal game, were down, 0-3, 2-4, and 5-7, before scoring four straight points to grab control and finally finished off Tere-Apisah and Stubbings, 10-8.
The mixed doubles finale was Sinclair’s fourth game last Saturday, as he had two other matches last Saturday morning.
The first was his singles duel with Stubbings, and Sinclair won, 6-0, 6-1, to hand the CNMI another gold medal. Several minutes after his singles title conquest, Sinclair paired with Schorr and they went back and forth with Tonga’s Matavao and Semisi Fanguna, who eventually notched the gold medal following a tough 6-4, 6-4 victory.
With Sinclair leading the CNMI’s triumph in three events, the Commonwealth had the most gold medals in the tennis competition, matching the output of PNG’s women’s squad, so it was mission accomplished for him.
“It is better to aim high and miss than to aim low and hit,” Sinclair was quoted as saying in an interview with the Pacific Games’ official website.
Meanwhile, New Caledonia ruled the Pacific Games after collecting 182 medals (75 golds, 56 silvers, and 51 bronze). PNG and host Samoa completed the Top 3 with their 39-58-34 and 38-41-45 tally, respectively.