Bobby Cruz and Moris Villanueva will again don the colors of the CNMI as they are selected to represent the Commonwealth to the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
The two players will compete in the lawn tennis event of the Asian Indoor, which will be held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan from Sept. 17 to 27.
It’s always a great honor to represent the CNMI. The chance to compete in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games is going to be an awesome challenge given the level of competition,” said Cruz in an interview with Saipan Tribune.
Cruz played for the Commonwealth during the 2017 Micronesian Games in Palau and helped Team CNMI rule the tennis competition against long-time rival Guam, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. Last year, he also joined Micronesian Cup in Palau with his team—Marianas Outrigger Club—sweeping all the men’s categories. Villanueva, on the other hand, played for the CNMI Junior Tennis Team in the North Pacific Regional Championships and Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in the past.
In the lawn tennis in Turkmenistan, Cruz and Villanueva will be facing representatives from the 45 member-countries of the Olympic Council of Asia plus players from member countries of the Oceania National Olympic Committees. All 19 members of ONOC are invited to the Asian Indoor for the first time and as a regular competitor, they are eligible to win medals.
“Whatever the outcome, it’ll be a rich experience overall. I feel exponentially blessed to have this opportunity, so I want to do well to make the CNMI proud,” said Cruz, who is busy preparing physically and mentally for the tournament.
“The CNMI’s presence at events like this is important, so my partner, Moris Villanueva, and I will do our absolute best. Moris and I have been on the tennis courts almost every day. We’ve also been cross training. Recently, I’ve personally gotten a huge support from my buddy Jerry Diaz, who is an outstanding trainer and motivator. I have also received help from my paddling teammates from MOC, especially Jack Kabriel, who push me to train hard when I’m not on the court. There’s more technical and mental tuning that needs to be done, so I’ll be reaching out to coach Jeff Race for support,” Cruz said.
Race nominated Cruz and Villanueva to the Asian Indoor when Northern Marianas Sports Association received an invitation from the host country through ONOC.
Besides lawn tennis, which will be played at the indoor Tennis Centre of Ashgabat, 19 other events will also be contested in the Asian Indoor. The list includes bowling, chess, billiards, cycling, dancesports, taekwondo, equestrian, futsal, indoor athletics, jiu-jitsu, muay Thai, kickboxing, kurash, sambo, swimming (short course), weightlifting, wrestling, belt wrestling, and traditional wrestling.