The CNMI Junior Tennis Team is sending 17 players to Guam for the 2014 North Pacific Championships.
The list includes U18’s Colin Ramsey, U16’s Negahr Rastguiy, U14’s Luther Lizama, Vincent Tudela, Haruya Eda, Steven Goodwin, Tania Tan, Julia Ishikawa, Mimi Sakano, and Ami Tsukagoshi, and U12’s Robbie Schorr, Ken Song, Aditya Rai, Malika Miyawaki, Conatsu Kaga, Jireh Warren, and Asia Raulerson.
“Obviously the names of several of the NMI’s best junior players are not on the entry form this year. This is largely due to school going very late this year. Several kids would miss finals or graduation if they went to Guam,” CNMI coach Jeff Race said in an email to Saipan Tribune yesterday. “Others are starting high school in August and don’t want to miss the first couple of weeks in their new school by going to Fiji.
Despite the absence of some key players, Race is still confident with the Commonwealth players’ chances against representatives of the three other nations.
“We still have many strong players though. I believe we will still be the strongest team there, but I am quite sure that I’ll be able to keep my hair this year. There’s a silver lining to every cloud,” the CNMI mentor added.
Last year, Race had his head shaved when his wards swept the singles crown and took all 12 slots on the North Team during the regional championships held on Saipan. In the boys division singles last year, Jake Lee ruled the U18 age group, while Michael Ren and Chris Cajigan prevailed in the U12 and U15 divisions, respectively. In the girls category, Negahr Rasguiy (U15), Thea Minor (U18), and Carol Lee (U12) completed the CNMI sweep after topping their respective divisions. Race’s players also took five of the six doubles crown to smoke their competition.
In this year’s regional championships, only the U18 and U12 age group competitions will remain, while the tournament will revert to the U14 and U16 events. The Top 4 players in each age group will earn slots on the North Pacific Team that will compete against the East and West in the 2014 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji this August.
In the POJC, the CNMI had the best showing (in terms of Top 4 finishes) for the last three years. Last year, the Commonwealth bets grabbed eight semis seats—the most by any nation. In 2012 and 2011, the CNMI also secured the most Final Four slots with six and five, respectively.