The CNMI earned the most championships in the 2016 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships that concluded last Sunday in Lautoka, Fiji.
The Jeff Race-coached CNMI Junior Tennis Team got two more titles in the doubles events to bring its total to four. Carol Lee, who earlier handed the Commonwealth its first championship in the POJC this year after dominating anew the girls U16 singles, added the division’s doubles crown to her collection after teaming up with Isabel Heras. Robbie Schorr, who gave the CNMI the boys U14 singles plum, was also triumphant in the doubles competition after partnering with Ken Song.
Schorr and Song clinched the division’s doubles championship after sweeping their foes. They first downed Vanuatu’s Samuel Strid and Warea Tigona in the semis, 6-1, 6-1, and then had a similar two-set victory over Tahiti’s Brendon Fong and Vaitea Molinier, 6-2, 6-2, to rule the boys U14 doubles.
In the girls U16 doubles, Lee and Heras also did not drop a single set en route to bagging the division championship. The CNMI duo shut down Tahiti’s Naia Guitton and Tonga’s Skylawn Palelei, 6-0, 6-0, in the semis before topping Fiji’s Ruby Coffin and Vienna Kumar in the finals, 6-2, 6-2. Hera and Lee’s fellow CNMI player Tania Tan won the consolation draw in the division, teaming up with the Federated State of Micronesia’s Sunshine Palik in beating Vanuatu’s Daisy Sipiti and Samoa’s Maanaima Tausi, 4-1, 4-1.
With its four first place finishes, the CNMI defeated the favored and perennial first placer Tahiti and the 12 other island-nations in the race for the most championships in the POJC. Tahiti had three titles with its team topping the boys U12 and U16 doubles, while its third crown came from the girls U14 doubles with Lamorelle sharing the title with Eleanor Schuster. Fiji gained two, courtesy of Saoirse Breen’s victories in the girls U12 singles and doubles (with the Solomon Islands’ Zorika Morgan), while Vanuatu had the same output, thanks to boys U12 champion Maui Leflon and boys U16 winner Clement Mainguy.
“All our hard work paid off. We would like to thank all our sponsors and the players’ parents for the support. Special thanks to PIC for allowing us to use their courts for our local tournaments,” Race said in a message sent to Saipan Tribune last night.
In other divisions, the CNMI got two second place finishers with Ji Min Woo and Seung Jin Paik and Conatsu Kaga and Malika Miyawaki advancing to the finals of the boys U12 and girls U14 divisions, respectively.
Miyawaki and Conatsu defeated Tonga’s Kava Taufa and American Samoa’s Crystal Christman in the semis, 6-2, 6-2, to march into the finals where they fell to Samoa’s Schuster and Tahiti’s Lea Lamorelle, 2-6, 0-6. Woo and Paik also took only two sets to eliminate FSM’s Jason Freddy and New Caledonia’s Robin Seelan in the semis, 6-3, 7-5, before the CNMI duo bowed to Tahiti’s Manovai Elie and Haunui Montas in the finals, 6-3, 4-6, 8-10.