As predicted, the CNMI Junior National Team was challenged by a determined Tahiti squad for the Nations Cup in the 2018 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji.
Tahiti went on to beat the CNMI, foiling the Commonwealth’s bid for a three-peat.
“The CNMI finished No. 2 out of the 14 countries represented in the POJC for the Nations Cup standings,” national coach Jeff Race told Saipan Tribune.
Race had earlier said that that the two-time Nations Cup winner CNMI would be the target of the oppositions in the POJC, particularly Tahiti, which lost to his wards in close battles in 2016 and 2017.
The CNMI settled for the runner-up honors this time after getting only one championship—courtesy of Robbie Schorr in the boys U16 singles. Schorr defeated higher-ranked opponents in the semis (No. 2 Clement Mainguy of Vanuatu) and finals (No. 1 Jeremy Guinnes of Tahiti) to rule his division. Tahiti had two titles (boys U14 singles and U16 doubles) and two runner-up wins (girls U14 doubles and boys U16 singles)
“Tahiti beat us by one match out of 65 we played,” said Race, who made special mention of Schorr’s title win in the singles event,
“Robbie played a remarkable final against defending POJC champion Jeremy Guines of Tahiti to win this year’s title, 6-4, 6-3. I think Jeremy was really stunned by Robbie’s consistency, power and poise under pressure. It’s a great victory for him after eight months of intense competition,” he said.
Schorr also played in the doubles with Ken Song and they made it to the semifinals. Jimin Woo was the other CNMI player to make it to the finals of a singles event (boys U14), losing to Tahiti’s Manovai Elie. Woo and Seung Jin Paik competed in the doubles finals, too, but bowed to Fiji’s Storm Cornish and the Solomon Islands’ Lachlan Guba.
In the girls U14 doubles, the CNMI’s Coume Kaga partnered with the Federated States of Micronesia’s Ridianne Wolphagen and they moved into the Final Four. Coume’s older sister, Conatsu, was with Malika Miyawaki and the Commonwealth pair also qualified to the semifinals of the girls U16 doubles. In singles, Conatsu and Miyawaki made it to the quarterfinals and were ranked No. 5 and 6, respectively, at the conclusion of the competition. Coume duplicated her sister’s No. 5 finish in the girls U14 singles.
In the U12 age group, the CNMI fielded only a boys team (Anthony Gregoire and David Kwon) and it finished sixth in the rankings.