CNMI junior players stand out

The CNMI Junior National Team players and their coach Jeff Race pose for a photo at the departure area of Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport before heading to Guam for the 2017 North Pacific Regional Championships last week. They returned last Saturday with three singles titles and one each in doubles and team event. (Contributed Photo)

The CNMI Junior National Team brought home five titles after completing its campaign the 2017 North Pacific Regional Championships in Guam last Friday.

The Jeff Race-coached squad won the boys and girls 16-and-under singles, girls 16-and-under doubles, boys 14-and-under singles, and boys U12 team event crowns in the tournament that also featured players from Guam, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Michael Ren handed the Commonwealth the boys 16-and-under singles championships after pulling off an upset over the No. 1 seed Camden Camacho of Guam in the finals. The No. 2 Ren drew first blood in the battle of the undefeated players, taking the opening set, 6-3, before Camacho fought back in the second, 6-2, to extend the finale. In the deciding third set, the CNMI player regained his bearings and posted a 6-3 triumph.

Besides Ren, another Commonwealth player made a podium finish in the 16-and-under singles as Vincent Tudela downed FSM’s Joab Williams in the consolation match, 6-1, 6-4. Tudela then teamed up with Ken Song in the doubles and took the runner-up honors in the round-robin competition with their 4-1 record.

In the girls 16-and-under age group, the CNMI had a sweep, thanks to Malika Miyawaki and Grace Choi. Miyawaki was unbeaten in the singles play, winning all her five games and finishing the round-robin contest in style after crushing FSM’s Tatiana Panuela. Choi placed second behind Miyawaki with her 4-1 record and then two Commonwealth bets clinched the doubles crown in the division after earning a 2-0 mark. Miyawaki and Choi dominated Panuelo and Guam’s Elizabeth Su and Anika Sachdev and Joycelyn Tenai, also of Guam, in similar scores, 6-1, 6-2.

In the boys 14-and-under singles, No. 1 see Sean Lee survived a tough challenge from Guam’s Andrew Leng, eking out a 6-0, 3-6, 10-3 victory in the finals. In the doubles, the CNMI finished second and third with Richard Steele and Andrew Kim posting a 3-1 record in the round-robin competition, and Lee and Sam Ryu registering a 2-2 card.

The CNMI missed a sweep in the 14-and-under singles, as Maria Gregoire settled for the runner-up honors after bowing to FSM’s Anne Skilling in last Friday’s title-deciding game, 3-6, 2-6. Skilling and compatriot Ridianne Wolphagen also got the doubles crown after defeating Gregoire and Panuelo in a thrilling super-tiebreaker game, 6-3, 3-6, 15-13.

Meanwhile, in the U12 team event, the CNMI Boys 1 was perfect in five games to rule the six-squad field.

Daniel Kang and Anthony Gregoire recorded a clean slate in the tournament after beating Guam Boys 1 last Friday, 2-1. Guam Boys 1 won the first singles match after Jacob Jackson edged Gregoire, 6-3, 6-2. However, the CNMI grabbed the division title after sweeping the last two games with Kang slipping past Aarman Sachdev, 2-6, 6-2, 10-2, and then teaming up with Gregoire in pulling off another hard-earned victory against the Guam pair, 3-6, 7-5, 11-9.

In the girls division, the CNMI Girls 1 and 2 joined champion Palau Girls in the Top 3. Hye Jin Elliot and J.C. Ferrer of CNMI 1 had a 3-1 record in the tournament to take the runner-up honors, while CNMI 2’s Helen Kim and Anika Camacho finished with a third-best 2-2 mark.

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

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