CNMI’s Thea Minor and Rafael Jones both faltered in their opening matches in the 2011 Air Pacific South Pacific Open Junior Championships in Lautoka, Fiji last Monday.
Minor, who had a bye in the first round of the 34-player draw, was pitted against New Zealand’s Hine Elizabeth Wilson and lost in straight sets. The Commonwealth’s junior netter fought hard in the first set only to lose in the end, 6-7 (6). After the close opening set, Minor ran out of gas and bowed to her Kiwi foe at 6-3.
The 15-year-old Saipan Southern High School student was unranked in the tournament, while the 17-year-old Wilson was seeded at No. 15 and ranked as high as No. 1713 in the world. The New Zealand netter has 2.5 Junior ITF ranking points, while Minor attempted to gain ranking points, but failed twice. Minor also lost her opening match in a Junior ITF event in New Caledonia last week.
The tournament in Fiji was Jones’ first Junior ITF event and he also dropped his opening game.
Jones was entered in the 42-player drew and did not get a bye in the first round. He was paired against fellow unseeded player Robin Hao Nguy of Hong Kong and lost in straight sets, 1-6, 0-6.
The Saipan International School student also played in the doubles competition and teamed up with Kiribati’s Tito Bira. The Micronesian duo drew a bye in the first round, but failed to advance to the quarterfinals when it bowed to No. 5 and New Zealand’s Jake McCartney and James William Southon, 0-6, 2-6.
In the girls division, Minor teamed up with the Solomon Island’s Amanda Korinihona and they lost to Hong Kong’s Tsz Ching Cristy Chan and Man Ying Ng, 2-6, 3-6.
After the Junior ITF event, Minor and Jones will stay at the Dr. Robin Mitchell Regional Tennis Centre in Fiji to train for one month and then they will be reunited with the CNMI teammates next month when they compete in the 2011 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships.