The CNMI’s Jimin Woo and Seung Jin Paik showed poise under pressure, pulling off a thrilling super-tiebreaker win over their opponents in the semifinals of the boys U14 doubles event in the 2018 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships yesterday in Fiji.
Woo and Paik were beaten by New Caledonia’s Tiago Lopes and Terence Winter in the first set, 6-3, but battled back in the next two to steal the win and the finals berth that went it. The CNMI duo labored through a 7-5 victory in the second to force a deciding super-tiebreak third set, which it won, 10-4, to complete the come-from-behind victory.
Paik and Woo will go for the doubles championship tomorrow when they take on giant killers Storm Cornish of Fiji and Lachlan Guba of the Solomon Islands. Cornish and Guba, who earlier eliminated No. 1 seed Manovai Elie and Haunui Montas of Tahiti, 6-1, 0-6, 10-8, booted out Vanuatu’s Noah Molbaleh and Zachary Sands, 7-5, 6-2, to set up a finals duel against the No. 2 seed Paik and Woo.
Woo is also in contention for the boys U14 singles crown after making it to the semifinals yesterday. Incidentally, the No. 2 seed Woo defeated Paik in the quarterfinals, 6-1, 6-2, to move into the semis against Cornish, a 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 winner over No. 8 Winter. In the other Final Four pairing, it will be No. 1 Elie versus his compatriot and No. 5 Meheannu Larson after the former downed Fiji’s Maka Ofati, 6-4, 6-2, and the latter won over fellow Tahiti player Aritea Cotti-Helme, 6-2, 6-2.
In other results, Robbie Schorr is the lone CNMI player left standing in the boys U16 singles. Schorr won over compatriot Sean Lee, 6-0, 6-1, to make it to the semis. He will be up against No. 2 seed and Vanuatu’s Clement Mainguy, who foiled an all-CNMI semis duel at the lower half of the draw after ousting No. 4 Ken Song, 6-1, 6-2. Schorr and Mainguy will square off for the second finals berth today, while No. 1 Jeremy Guinnes and fellow Tahiti player Mohearii Polin will collide in the other semis pairing. Guinnes advanced after sweeping the Solomon Islands’ Junior Micky, 6-1, 6-0, while Polin followed suit, as he eliminated Guam’s Marshall Zang, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-0.
In the boys U16 doubles, Guinnes and Polin topped Schorr and Song, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to march into the finals against Vanuatu’s Mainguy and Warea Tigona—a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Nortfolk Islands’ Sam Cribb and Fiji’s Maka Ofati in the other semis game.
In the girls U16 doubles, the CNMI’s Malika Miyawaki and Conatsu Kaga missed a finals stint after being beaten by the No. 1 pair of Lea Lamorelle of Tahiti and Samoa’s Eleanor Schuster, 6-1, 6-0. Fiji’s Saoirse Breen and Vanuatu’s Rosalie Molbalej took the other finals berth in the division after prevailing against Vanuatu’s Desiree Signo and Fiji’s Kajol Chand, 6-1, 6-3.
In the singles play, both Miyawaki and Kaga were also out of contention after losing to Lamorelle and Breen, respectively, in similar scores, 1-6, 2-6. Lamorelle will battle Schuster for the finals berth at the upper half of the draw, while at the lower half, it will be Breen versus Molbaleh.
Conatsu’s sister, Coume, fell short in her singles’ bid, too. Coume won the opening set of her quarterfinals match against Tahiti’s Chrissy Vonge, 6-4, but the latter grabbed the win after sweeping the last two, 6-3, 10-7. Vonge will be paired with compatriot Vaiani Dusserre-Valleaux in the semis, while the other Final Four duel will be an all-Solomon Islands affair with Zorika Morgan facing Prudence Bird. Morgan ousted the Cook Islands’ Te Akaiti Toa, 6-2, 6-4, while Bird knocked out Samoa’s Penina Kamu, 6-1, 6-0.