CNMI tennis is losing a contributor to the sport with the transfer of Luke Beling to Hawaii.
Beling, who arrived on Saipan in 2013 to teach at Whispering Palms and eventually became the tennis pro at Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, has accepted the “Director of Tennis” post at Kukio Beach Club in Hawaii. He and his family will leave Saipan at the end of this month.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the players of Saipan and I am very sad to leave the kids and the community. I’ve loved seeing the energy and enthusiasm of the players here. This has impressed me most,” said Beling, who will be replaced by Peter Loken as coach and owner of Saipan Tennis Academy.
During his nearly three-year stay on Saipan, Beling worked with upcoming players and also honed the skills of some of the CNMI’s junior players who represented the Commonwealth to different off-island competitions.
His advice to his students and the rest of the CNMI’s junior players is to continue playing.
“Play matches and then more matches. Don’t worry about who you are playing against or what the score is. Respect and enjoy the journey and the process of becoming a tennis player,” the former Campbellsville University standout said.
Beling, who was once ranked in the Top 15 in South Africa junior tennis, also wishes that the island’s youth players aspire to play higher level tennis.
“My hope is that all those who pursue tennis set and chase goals that seem impossible to reach. Dream and pursue being a pro or playing college if that’s in your heart. Work hard, don’t waste a minute by being lazy. Take advantage of the opportunity to play and compete and have no regrets,” he added.
When Beling leaves, he will bring with him a collection of awards he won from the various tournaments on the island. He debuted on Saipan via the 2013 Tan Holdings Tennis Classic where he notched three division championships—the men’s open singles, men’s open doubles (with fellow coach Jeff Race) and mixed open doubles (with former CNMI junior player Thea Minor). He successfully defended the men’s open singles title in the same tournament for two years (2014 and 2015) and also kept the men’s open doubles championship (with Loken in 2014 and Martin Jambor in 2015).
In the PIC Tennis Championships, he topped the men’s open singles divisions in 2014 and 2015 and also ruled the mixed open doubles category with Mikayla Lopez in the same years.
Beling played in the Coconut Tennis Classic, too and prevailed in the mixed-up doubles with junior player Joshua Abragan in 2014.
“My most memorable tournaments were the Coconut Classics. The tournaments posed a unique and interesting challenge and allowed me to lead a junior in a real game situation as opposed to an after/pre match or practice situation,” Beling said.
Meanwhile, Race thanked Beling for helping develop young players.
“He gave us a lot of help in teaching young players how to improve their games. I wish he could stay, but he received a great offer and he has to take it. I wish him good luck,” the CNMI coach said.