Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association’s ladder director Luke Beling is among the top-ranked players who will compete in the group’s new program that will kick off next week at various courts on the island.
Beling is the No. 1 player in the men’s open division and rankings were decided via raffle drawing after the initial registration was completed late last month. Twenty-four other players joined the men’s open ladder and the list includes (in order or rankings) Moris Villanueva, Jeff Race, Bobby Cruz, Colin Ramsey, Dong Min Lee, Raj Rai, Mikayla Lopez, Negahr Rastguiy, Luther Lizama, Ken Imaya, Fr. Ryan Jimez, Nicky Nichols, Gary Ramsey, Michael Ren, Robbie Schorr, Vincent Tudela, Tony Kim, Steven Goodwin, Ken Song, Richard Asuncion, WooSun Cho, and Steven Lee. Female players are allowed in the men’s open field to give them more opportunity to play against tougher players.
Under NMITA’s ladder tennis, a player has one initial chance to challenge anyone in any position on the ladder. If the player loses that challenge match, he/she will then be placed on the bottom of the ladder and has to challenge to move up. The new ladder participant who wins that initial match moves into the position of the player he/she just defeated.
Players may challenge upwards a maximum of three positions. Challengers must issue the challenge to higher players and matches must be accepted and scheduled within two weeks of the challenge, unless both players agree to an extension or the ladder director accepts a reasonable reason for a delay. Players not accepting challenges may be dropped from the ladder.
No player may be challenged more than once a week, while matches will be two sets, regular scoring and in case of a tie, a super tiebreaker will be in effect. Games halted by rain or other acceptable reasons must be played within a week or the win will be awarded to the leading player.
Four other ladders are under the program: men’s 40-and-above, boys and girls, and women’s open.
Seventeen-year-old Mikayla Lopez leads both the women’s open and girls division. She is joined in the women’s open by (in order of rankings) Carol Lee, Rastguiy, Isabel Heras, Marivic Rosario, Lydia and Tania Tan, Julia Ishikawa, Ami Tsukagoshi, Mimi Sakano, Malika Miyawaki, and Conatsu Kaga.
In the girls division, 19 other players are entered. Ranked second behind Lopez is Lee, followed by Rastguiy, Heras, Tania Tan, Julia Ishikawa, Tsukagoshi, Sakano, Miyawaki, Conatsu Kaga, Asia Raulerson, Erika Tuttle, Coume Kaga, Maria Gregoire, Erie Orteta, Ellie Epley, Maaya Sato, Hyejin Elliot, Susan Sablan, and Soleil Lamar.
The boys division has more entries than the girls with 23. Moris Villanueva is the top-ranked player, followed by Tommy Choi, Colin Ramsey, Lizama, Ren, Schorr, Tudela, Kim, Goodwin, Song, Cho, Steven Lee, Eda, Joshua Abragan, Jimin Woo, Allan Lee, Jeffrey Seo, Brian Kim, Sean Lee, Daniel Kang, Richard Steele, Chris Kim, and Anthony Gregoire.
The men’s 40-and-above ladder has the least number of entries with 10. CNMI coach Jeff Race leads the list and is joined by Dong Min Lee, Raj Rai, Ken Imaya, Jimenez, Nichols, Eric Abragan, Gary Ramsey, Randy Steele, Steve Hang, and David Lochabay.
The ladder program is introduced to the CNMI to give both junior and adult players more matches and chance to improve their game.