Isabel, Hye Jin finish second; men crack Top 4
The CNMI National Tennis Team capped their impressive stint in the 2022 Pacific Nations Cup in Lautoka, Fiji with a runner-up finish for the women and a Top 4 placing for the men.
Isabel Heras and Hye Jin Elliot settled for second place after bowing to ranked Fiji in the championship match last Saturday.
In the first singles match, Elliot lost to Ruby Coffin, 0-6, 1-6, in a match that lasted exactly an hour.
Heras, meanwhile, ran out of heroics when she bowed to Saoirse Breen, 2-6 2-6, in the second singles match that finished in 1 hour and 14 minutes.
On Friday, Heras and Elliot punched their finals ticket with a 2-0 win over Cook Islands.
Elliot got on the board first following a 6-3 6-3 victory over Timeri Wearing.
Heras then completed the sweep after overwhelming Lillian Maui, 6-0, 6-1.
In the battle for third, the CNMI men fought valiantly but ultimately surrendered a highly competitive tie against Vanuatu, 1-2.
Playing coach Bobby Cruz gave the Team NMI the early advantage after downing Fintan Molbaleh, 6-1, 6-0, in just 53 minutes of play.
Colin Ramsey, however, couldn’t sustain the momentum and dropped a 1-6, 3-6 match to Noah Molbaleh in 1 hour and 17 minutes.
In the rubber doubles, Cruz and Ramsey ran out of steam and lost to the Vanuatu pair, 5-7, 2-6. The doubles match lasted an hour and 38 minutes.
In Friday’s semifinals, Cruz and Ramsey lost to Tahiti, 2-0.
Cruz was defeated by Patoia Teripaia, 1-6, 6-0, while Ramsey was beaten by Reynald Taaroa, 2-6, 1-6.
After the women’s final and men’s third place tie, Cruz said despite the stinging losses in the final day of competition, Team NMI still gave a good account of themselves at the 2022 Pacific Nations Cup.
Both teams entered the tournament unseeded, but surprised everyone by reaching the semifinals of both the men’s and women’s draws.
“I was super impressed by the girls’ performance. To enter the tournament unseeded and make it all the way to the finals. They came up short today (Saturday). We thought that match was a match they could win. But the Fijian girls just played well,” he said.
Cruz added that Heras and Elliot have so much to be grateful for reaching the finals.
“I felt like Isabel and Hye Jin really bonded as a team and as the tournament went on they just became stronger and stronger. A lot of positive things we can take away from this event.”
He was a bit down about his and Ramsey’s last two matches though, especially the battle for third against Vanuatu.
“Today was hard for us…today was really a rough day for all of us. It was a tough game for me and Colin. I felt people weren’t expecting Vanuatu to give us too much of a hard time. I took the court and I easily beat their No. 2 seed. Vanuatu then forced a deciding doubles match…”
Despite the men’s team missing the podium finish, Cruz said overall Team NMI showed that there’s definitely a bright future for the national team.
“I think the CNMI will have a stronger tennis team as we look forward to the year ahead and prepare for the Micro Games, the Pacific Games, and the Nations Cup. There are three big events coming next year and one of the big things we’d like to do is beef up our national tennis program.”