The CNMI’s impressive run in the ITF North Pacific Regional Championships 2015 continued, as doubles events in the annual competition kicked off yesterday in Guam.
The Commonwealth’s girls U12, U14, and U16 teams went unbeaten, while the boys U14 and U12 also boosted their chances for the doubles titles in their respective divisions.
In the girls U14, Tania Tan teamed up with Malika Miyawaki and the top-ranked pair eased past their two opponents at the City Courts in Agana. The CNMI duo first shut down the Federated State of Micronesia’s Isabel Garcia and Tatiana Panuelo, 6-0, 6-0, before sweeping Guam’s Alyssa Merletti and Jocelyn Tenai, 6-2, 6-0.
The other CNMI team in the girls U14 doubles—Mimi Sakano and Asia Raulersom—played in the first game in the division and also took only two sets to beat Merletti and Tenai, 6-1, 6-3. Sakano and Raulerson then got a scare from Panuelo and Garcia in the opening set before pulling off a 7-6 (0) win. The second-ranked duo went on to complete the sweep with a dominating 6-0 victory.
In the girls U12 doubles, the CNMI also went 4-0 with the pairs of Conatsu and Coume Kaga and Ericka Tuttle and Maria Gregoire recording similar 2-0 records in the round-robin contest. The Kaga siblings waltzed past FSM’s Paris Panuelo and Anne Skilling, 6-0, 6-0, while Gregoire and Tuttle also dominated the same FSM pair, 6-1, 6-0. Conatsu and Coume earned their second win after a 6-0, 6-1 triumph over Guam’s Kaia Malakooti and FSM’s Chelsea Panuelo, who were also beaten by Gregoire and Tuttle, 6-3, 6-1.
In the girls U16 doubles, the top-ranked pair of Isabel Heras and Ami Tsukagoshi coasted to easy wins against FSM’s Sunshein Palik and Sirnarleen Perez, 6-0, 6-2, and Guam’s Victoria Smith and Nozomi Yamasawa, 6-0, 6-2.
In the boys division, singles semifinalist Seung Jin Paik partnered with Ji Min Woo and they bagged a 2-0 record in the opening day of the doubles event. The CNMI duo cruised past FSM’s Deavyn Etscheit and Palau’s Jonah Tilei Ziegler, 6-2, 6-1, before outclassing compatriots Sean Lee and Rintaro Miyawaki, 4-6, 6-0, 10-7. Miya-waki and Lee also lost to FSM’s Jerson Freddy and Jones Neth George.
In the boys U14 doubles, there was also an all-CNMI match in the first round with the tandem of Vincent Tudela and Steven Goodwin pulling off an upset against Ken Song and Robbie Schorr, 4-6, 6-4, 10-4. The two CNMI teams ended Day 1 with similar 2-1 records for a tie for second place in the division. Schorr and Song’s two victories were against Guam’s Kian Malakooti and Gabriel Tan, 6-0, 6-3, and Aaron Abrams and James Hourican, 6-3, 6-1. Tudela and Goodwin, on the other hand, posted their second victory against FSM’s Sarkau Weston Luckymis and Andre Perillo, 6-4, 7-5, before bowing to Sterkis Abraham and Joab William also of FSM, 3-6, 1-6.
“Well, our players continued to show great games. After playing for four successive days they maybe tired, but still they went out there and did their best,” CNMI coach Jeff Race said when asked to assess the team’s performance yesterday.
“Tomorrow (today) will be a big day for us, as they play in the semifinals. There will be more pressure because this is an important round. If they win in the semifinals, they are assured of slots to the Pacific Oceania Junior Championships. If not, they still have to play one more game in the battle for third place to make it to the POJC. There will be a lot of challenging games today and I hope they will pull in through,” Race added.
Fourteen CNMI players are in the semifinals in the singles contest.