CNMI junior player Isabel Heras made another finals appearance in Australia as she and Samoa’s Anasis Saipele stunned the top-ranked team in the semifinals of the 2016 Victorian Grasscourt Championships.
Heras and Saipele swept the No. 1 seeded pair of Mercy Jane Eze and Olivia Huang, 6-2, 6-2, last Friday at the Wodonga Tennis Centre in Victoria to take the girls U16 doubles’ finals seat in the upper half of the draw. The victory was the second in a row for the CNMI-Samoa duo as earlier in the quarterfinals, Heras and Saipele labored a 6-4-6-4 win against Polly Barnett and Georgia Collins last Wednesday. It took Heras and Saipele nearly five hours, according to the tournament website, to survive the quarterfinal round, while the pair needed only 55 minutes to pull off a big win against the top-ranked team in the field.
The upset also set up an all-Pacific Oceania finale, as Heras and Saipele’s fellow Grand Slam Development Fund Touring Team members Vienna Kumar and Ruby Coffin of Fiji ruled the lower half of the bracket. The Fiji duo defeated Sarah Ann Coleman and Holli Smith in the Round of 8, 6-2, 6-0, and had a similar surprise victory against the No. 2 seeds Kelsey Lewis and Julia Ramos, 6-1, 6-1, to march into the finals.
In the title game last Friday, Heras and Saipele drew first blood, 4-6, but failed to keep their momentum in the last two sets to hand Coffin and Kumar the doubles crown. The Fiji pair took the second set by 3 points, 6-3, and prevailed in the super tiebreaker third set, 10-5.
The finals stint in Wodonga was Heras’ second, as she had her first in the consolation round of the girls U16 singles event in the 2016 Commercial Club Margaret Court Cup held at the Albury Grasscourts in Albury, New South Wales a week earlier. The 15-year-old netter went on to rule the consolation bracket after downing two opponents.
In the doubles of the same tournament in Albury, Heras also teamed up with Saipele and, incidentally, they placed second, too to Kumar and Coffin.
In the singles event in Wodonga, Heras advanced to the semis of the consolation draw. She won over Laicy Rogerson, 6-4, 6-1, but dropped a tough super tiebreaker against the top-ranked Emmy Lappel, 4-6, 7-5, 8-10, to miss a finals trip. Heras fell to the consolation bracket after losing another close first round game in the main draw against Kumar, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6. Kumar eventually ruled the division with her 7-5, 6-1 upset versus the No. 4 seed Olivia Huang.
Meanwhile, Heras’ teammate Malika Miyawaki also competed in the Wodonga tournament and barged into the semifinals of the girls U14 doubles and singles consolation draw.
Miyawaki partnered with Tahiti’s Lea Vainui Lamorelle and they survived Nikita Chumbley and Hannah Morgan, 6-7, 6-4, 12-10, to make it to the semifinals against the top-ranked duo of Joy Andreou and Charlie Hargreaves. The seeded pair ousted Miyawaki and Lamorelle, 6-1, 6-0, and eventually bagged the doubles crown after a 6-4, 6-2 triumph over No. 2 Imogen Cameron and Alana Repanich.
In the singles, Miyawaki shut down Chloe Smith and Ella Anderson in the consolation draw to arrange a semis duel against Chloe Barker, who eliminated the CNMI bet, 6-3, 6-1, to march into the finals.
Earlier in the main draw, Miyawaki outclassed Clare D’Alessandro in the first round, 6-2, 6-0, before bowing to the top-ranked Andreou in the quarterfinals, 4-6, 1-6.