CNMI rules Nations Cup


Carol Lee, seen here getting ready to serve against Hong Kong’s Wing Ka Lin in last month’s Juniors ITF event at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan court, led the CNMI to a 2-1 title win over Samoa in the Inaugural Nations Cup Pacific yesterday in Fiji. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The CNMI made history in Fiji, as it was named the first champion in the women’s division of the Nations Cup Pacific yesterday.

The Commonwealth slipped past the Steffi Carruthers-led Samoa in the finals, 2-1, to reign supreme in the 12-nation tournament. Carruthers is a pro player and was joined on the squad by Eleanor Schuster, while the CNMI had junior players Carol Lee, Isabel Heras, and Conatsu Kaga on its fold.

Lee and Carruthers were teammates with the Pacific Oceania Fed Cup squad, but the junior player was all business when she faced the 25-year-old Samoan in the first singles match. The 16-year-old Lee won in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1 to move the CNMI a win away from topping the inaugural contest.

However, Schuster kept Samoa’s hopes alive when she prevailed against Heras in the second singles match, 6-1, 6-3.

Heras, who also dropped her singles matches in the semis and in the last game in pool play only to redeem herself in the doubles, did it again as she and Lee topped Carruthers and Schuster in the title-clinching match, 6-2, 6-2.

Heras was relieved after the win over their talented opponents.

“The doubles game was challenging because our opponents are great tennis players. But Carol and I managed to be the better tennis players on the court today, which I’m proud of. I’m happy with our results in the first Nations Cup,” Heras told Saipan Tribune.

For her part, though unbeaten, Lee said every match was tough, especially the last one.

“We had to be tough physically and mentally, of course. We were ready to go in the court and fight for the victory. Unfortunately, Isabel lost against Eleanor, but that does not mean it was the end for us,” Lee told Saipan Tribune in a separate interview yesterday.

“When the deciding doubles came we were both ready to fight for it. Sometimes we got nervous playing against them, but we communicate a lot and showed good teamwork,” she added.

Meanwhile, CNMI national coach Jeff Race had all praises to the team after conquering the tournament.

“It was a fantastic victory against Samoa. Carol just beat a veteran player in Steffi, while Isabel has improved a lot in the doubles play. Conatsu also had good results in the pool play. We’re proud of what our girls have accomplished in Fiji, as well as our boys team,” the CNM Sports Hall of Famer said.

Ken Song, Robbie Schorr, and Jimin Woo made it to the Top 10 in the men’s field after winning over Fiji Development Team in the pool play and against Tonga in the playoffs.

Tahiti and Vanuatu were battling for the division championship yesterday and the complete results of the finals were unavailable at press time. Tahiti took the first singles when Angelo Yersin defeated Leniker Thomas, 6-3, 6-1. Heve Kelley dueled Clement Mainguy in the other singles match, while the opposing teams’ two singles players would have also met in the doubles event, if needed.

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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