Jr. tennis players’ hard work bears fruit


Malika Miyawaki makes a backhand return during a local tournament last year. She is one of the CNMI junior tennis players who made it to the Pacific Oceania Touring Team that will be competing in Australia beginning today. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Slots on the Pacific Oceania Touring Team that CNMI junior tennis players got are well deserved.

“These are the products of their hard work in 2016,” CNMI Junior Tennis Team coach Jeff Race said in an interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday.

Ken Song, Malika Miyawaki, Jimin Woo, Seung Kin Paik, and siblings Conatsu and Coume Kaga made it on the Pacific Oceania Touring Team and are now in Australia to compete in the 2017 Margaret Court Cup and the 2017 Victorian Junior Grasscourt Championship. Mid last year, Carol Lee, Isabel Heras, and Tania Tan were also selected on elite squads and played in ITF Juniors event, while Robbie Schorr joined the Pacific Oceania Touring Team that participated in the Australian National Championships December Showdown.

“These players work day in and day out to keep improving their games. They worked hard to earn those slots,” Race added.

The long-time coach also said the selection of the CNMI players on regional squads is a testament to the Commonwealth’s strong program.

“It means we’re achieving our goals. We’re doing the right thing and heading into right direction,” the CNMI Sports Hall of Famer said.

“Now, we just have to keep the program running well and continue providing our players the opportunities to get better,” Race added.

Meanwhile, Song, Miyawaki, Woo, Paik and the Kaga sisters will play their first games in the Margaret Court Cup today at the Albury Grasscourts in Albury, New South Wales. The competition in Albury will run until Jan. 10 and the following day, the six CNMI bets will see action at Wodonga Tennis Center in Wodonga, Victoria for the grasscourt event.

From Australia, Song and company will then head to Fiji and will stay there until October to train at the Oceania facility.

“The training is some sort of experiment. We would like to find out how the training in Fiji will be beneficial to them, how different it is from their training here. I hope they will take that opportunity to get even better as we will have some tough competitions this year in the Pacific Oceania Junior Championships.

The CNMI Junior Tennis Team won the “Nation’s Cup” in the POJC this year after claiming two singles champions and two doubles crowns and making several semis appearances in the girls and boys U12, U14, and U16 events.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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