Bittersweet POJC stint for Carol

Carol Lee, seen here in the Juniors ITF event on Saipan in 2016, played in her last Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji early this month. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Carol Lee’s U16 singles championship in the Pacific Oceania Junior Championships is her last.

The title in the tournament held early this month in Fiji was the CNMI bet’s third straight in the age group, giving her the distinction of becoming the first player in the region to achieve that feat.

“POJC will always be special to me. I loved representing Northern Marianas and the North Pacific every year. It was a great platform for me since I was 12, and performing well there gave me opportunities to compete internationally,” said Lee, who is also the only player in Pacific Oceania to rule three different age groups competitions (U12, U14, and U16) in the annual tournament that features players from 19 counties.

“It’s sad that I won’t be competing next year, but I hope that I’ve set an example for younger players, especially girls, so that they can represent their countries with pride, and know that if they work hard, POJC is just the beginning of better opportunities for them,” the 15-year-old player added.

Lee did not drop a single set in her girls U16 title conquest in her swan song in the POJC. She shut down both her foes in the pool play and then allowed only a point in the first two games in the playoffs. In the finals, she was never threatened, easing her way to a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Tahiti’s top player Naia Guitton.

In the doubles, Lee and fellow CNMI player Malika Miyawaki also won their first two games convincingly, yielding only one point each to their foes. In the finals, Lee and Miyawaki cruised to a 6-2 triumph against Guitton and Samoa’s Eleanor Schuster in the first set before being outclassed in the second, 5-7. The CNMI pair then dominated the super-tiebreaker third set, 10-5, to give Lee the sweep and Miyawaki her first doubles title in the girls U16 division.

The world No. 212 also played in the POCJ Team Event and was unbeaten, too in four games. Her perfect record in the second week of the POJC helped the North Team tie East Team on top of the standings. North and East had similar 9-7 records in the round-robin play, but the latter was declared the champion by winning the tie that was resolved via the sets win/loss mark of each squad.

Meanwhile, Lee will return to Saipan for a well deserved two-week break before she goes back to Fiji to train again at the ITF/OTF regional facility and prepare for four ITF Juniors Circuit tournaments.

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Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for 16 years. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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