The CNMI’s Carol Lee is one step away from a return trip to the finals of the Oceania Closed Junior Championships after winning her quarterfinal game yesterday at the International Tennis Federation Regional Training Center in Lautoka, Fiji.
The top-ranked Lee eked out a 6-4 victory over No. 5 seed Lara Walker of Australia in the first set and then cruised to a 6-0 triumph in the second for the sweep and a spot in the semifinal round.
In the battle for the finals ticket at the upper half of the draw, Lee, who reached the finals of last year’s competition, but lost to Australia’s Amber Marshalls, 1-6, 4-6, will take on No. 3 seed Talia Gibson. The player from the Land Down Under advanced to the semis against Lee following a 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 6 and her compatriot Mia Repac.
In the other semis pairing, it will be an all-Aussie duel with No. 7 Amy Stevens facing No. 2 Natasha Russell. Stevens needed three sets to escape the upset axe of unranked Saoirse Breen in their quarterfinal game. The Fiji player, who stunned No. 4 Roopa Bains in the second round, threatened to eliminate another seeded foe after a 6-2 victory over Stevens in the first set. However, Stevens found her stride in the second set with an easy 6-1 triumph and completed the recovery with a win in the deciding third in similar scores.
While Stevens had to battle her way back into the game to make it to the Final Four, Russell faced tough competition only in the first set when she pulled off a 7-5 win over unranked Vivian Wang of New Zealand. Then in the second set, Russell coasted to a 6-0 victory to notch a semis berth.
Meanwhile, Russell is also in the doubles semis, as she and Bains escaped with a 5-7, 6-3, 11-9 victory over New Caledonia’s Carolann Delaunay and Leylany Ipunesso. The No. 1 Aussies will meet Stevens and Walker in the semis of the top half of the bracket. Stevens and Walkers moved to the Final Four after eliminating New Zealand’s Aimee Brown and Sasha Situe, 6-0, 6-1.
At the bottom half of the draw, Lee and her teammate, Meeka Marsgall, fell short in their semis bid. Lee and Marshall won the first set, 7-6 (6), but were beaten by the unranked duo of Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz and Elena Micic of Australia in the last two, 6-3, 10-8.
The unseeded Australians’ semis foes are fellow Aussie Catherine Aulia and Kiwi Vivian Wang, who eased past Shanelle Iaconi and Zali Morris, 6-1, 6-0.
In other results, Sean Lee is in the quarterfinals of the consolation draw after downing a qualifier (player’s name was not indicated on the tournament website), 4-5 (5), 4-10, 12-10. Lee will next face Australia’s Amor Jasika, who topped New Caledonia’s Victor Lopes.
In the main draw, the competition is down to four players—unranked Alex Bulte, No. 3 Cihan Akay, Casey Hoole, and No. 2 Stefan Storch. Bulte posted the biggest win in the division after ousting No. 1 Cheng Dong, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.