CNMI Junior National Team players will walk around Fiji next month with a target on their back.
“They will be after us,” coach Jeff Race said after the CNMI conquered the 2018 North Pacific Regional Championships in Guam last year and will banner the North Pacific Team in the 2018 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji mid next month.
At the POJC, Race’s wards will be gunning for a third consecutive Nations Cup, which is given to the nation that wins the most matches in the 19-country tournament.
“It will be very tough to get the Nations Cup for the third straight year because every one is targeting us, especially Tahiti, which we frustrated in the last two years,” Race said.
Tahiti, according to Race, will bring in their players who are training in France for the Nations Cup.
Despite the big obstacle that his team will be facing next month, Race welcomed the challenge.
“It’s good for us, it’s good for everyone. We won the Nations Cup (twice) in a row so Tahiti, Vanuatu, and other teams are pushed to play and train harder to get the title from us,” Race said.
“Now that we know that everyone is after us, our players are also pushing themselves hard in practice to get ready for the competition in Fiji and defend the Nations Cup. That’s how the tennis tournament in the Pacific works, we push each other to get better and although only one team gets the crown, still everybody wins,” Race said.
The Oceania Tennis Federation and International Tennis Federation have yet to inform Race about the CNMI players who will travel to Fiji. However, Race said 10 to 13 players that appeared in the tournament in Guam may earn slots on the North Pacific Team and they will join the other Commonwealth players (5) who were given wild card entries in Fiji following their outstanding performance in last year’s event.