The CNMI men’s national tennis team overcame severe cramping by its No. 2 player and some gamesmanship on the part of Vanuatu to win the gold medal in the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 last Saturday at the American Memorial Park.
Robbie Schorr gave Davis Cup veteran Clement Mainguy all he could handle in the first set, but ultimately succumbed to severe cramps at the start of the second and lost, 6-4, 6-0.
The Pacific William Woods University varsity player and coach Jeff Race immediately made a beeline to the medical tent after the match where he was put on an IV drip to recover following a failed search for pickle juice.
In the second singles match, Colin Sinclair took on Aymeric Mara who went down early and often against the ITF Tour veteran and lost faster than you can say
“match point,” 6-0, 6-1.
Luckily by the time Sinclair was putting on the finishing touches on his demolition job of Vanautu’s No. 2 singles player, Schorr was up and about and ready to play in the rubber doubles to decide the men’s gold medal.
Obviously miffed at the haste Vanuatu wanted to proceed to the doubles game, Sinclair and Schorr sent a signal that the latter was fully recovered from his severe cramping and didn’t surrender a single game to Mainguy and Mara in the opening set, 6-0.
Vanuatu regained some of their bearings in the second set and managed to take two games against the CNMI, but the result was inevitable as Sinclair and Schorr won the gold medal with plenty to spare, 6-2.
CNMI national tennis coach Jeff Race was ecstatic after the sport he nurtured the better part of the last 30 years on the islands won the CNMI’s first gold of the Games.
“Our first gold for the CNMI and we’re so happy. The players are so excited to be here and Robbie and Colin coming in here and playing with the support of the crowd and our team was fantastic. For me personally, it’s a lifelong dream to win a gold medal like this at home and happy that we can share this with everybody here in the CNMI.”
The NMSA Hall of Famer also thanked the medical team, led by Dr. Martin Rohringer, for treating Schorr’s severe cramping.
“I was so happy because I was out here with Colin while Robbie was getting treatment and when I went back, Robbie was running back and forth and he was jumping up and down. The medical team did a great job on him. They got him back on his feet, massaged, taped up, and rehydrated. When I went over there and I saw him looking so good I had a ton of confidence in my doubles team and they came through spectacularly.”
Sinclair simply said that he’s happy they won the gold after an exhaustive day on the tennis courts.
“It’s been a long day. We had Robbie on an IV drip before the doubles because he was cramping in his singles match. It was an awesome effort by Robbie to be just out there on the court and for him to play so well. It’s exciting to play in front of the people I grew up with and family and friends it’s really special and they helped us to a victory this day.”
On Vanuatu’s gamesmanship in getting the second singles match over as quickly as possible, Sinclair shrugged it off and said it’s all part of the game.
“It’s a little bit strategic. They knew Robbie was obviously cramping in his singles so it’s a strategy to the sport. They wanted to get on with the doubles really quickly but it didn’t work thanks to the medical staff here. I play Davis Cup every year with them. I think Aymaric also was a little tired today because it was a very long day and I’m happy they got the silver.”
For Schorr, there was no way he was going to be subbed out in the do-or-die doubles game.
“To be honest, at the beginning of the second set, I felt a cramp moving from my backhand side to my forehand side and I just didn’t want to make it worse and that’s why I just finished the match and went over there and got treatment. I knew I was coming back though and I knew I’m going to fight back to get into the court and give it my all for everyone,”
Like Race, he also thanked the staff at the medical tent for getting him ready for the deciding doubles match.
“I actually felt great [after the IV drip]. Physio did wonders. They did a lot of stuff and some of the doctors made an IV and I feel great. Shout out to them for making me come back here. I also want to dedicate this gold medal to my family and everyone who showed up, my teammates and coaches at William Woods, just everyone who brought me to this,” he said.
The gold-medal winning CNMI men’s team is also made up Colin Ramsay and Bobby Cruz, who also serves as assistant coach.
In the bronze medal game, Tahiti beat Fiji, 2-0, after Gillian Osmont won over William O’Connell, 6-2, 6-1, and Reynald Taaroa clinched the tie with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Sebastian Tikaram.
For the women, the CNMI unfortunately missed a podium finish when Isabel Heras and Asia Raulerson narrowly dropped the rubber doubles, 6-3, 7-6 (9), against Ela Vakaukamea and Ana Finau Tamanika of Tonga. After Raulerson lost the first singles against Vakaukamea, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, Heras forced a deciding doubles with a 6-4, 6-0 triumph over Tamanika.
With tennis awarding medals, the CNMI and PNG find themselves atop the medal count each with one gold each, followed by Fiji and Vanuatu with a silver apiece and Tahiti and Tonga with matching bronzes. Tennis started the singles part of its events yesterday and more medals are expected to be awarded today as va’a, triathlon (Rota), and weightlifting get underway.