Jr. tennis players stand out in Guam

Malika Miyawaki, seen here getting ready for a return, is a win away from clinching the girls U16 singles title in the 2018 North Pacific Regional Championships in Guam. (Contributed Photo)

Four days into the tournament, the CNMI Junior National Team is proving to be a force to reckon with in the 2018 North Pacific Regional Championships.

The Jeff Race-coached squad has players entered in the finals of both the girls and boys U14 singles and doubles, while its bets in the U16 singles and doubles, have a strong chance to top their competition. Then in the U12 team event, both the boys and girls squads of the Commonwealth are in good position to secure the championship in their respective divisions.

Race’s wards are able to show these impressive performances in the ongoing tournament in Guam despite the absence of the CNMI’s top-ranked players, who are in New Caledonia competing in separate tournaments and will continue their training at the regional facility in Fiji.

“Considering five of our best players are off-island and we have many first-timers, we are having a great success here. Seung Jin Paik, Coume Kaga, Malika Miyawaki, Sam Ryu, Anthony Gregoire, and David Kwon are all in a good position to win their divisions,” Race said in a message sent to Saipan Tribune after last Wednesday’s matches.

“Our team has compiled a 58-28 match record (after Day 3) and several other players have winning records, which may earn them a place on the North Pacific Team to the POJC,” the CNMI coach added.

Paik advanced to the finals of the boys U14 singles after beating Guam’s Dakota Gibson in the semis yesterday, 6-1, 7-6. The No. 1 seed CNMI player will play the unranked Deavyn Etscheit of the Federated States of Micronesian in the title game today. Etscheit took the other finals berth after ousting compatriot Nolen Narruhn, 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.

Paik is also in the doubles finals after he and Daniel Kang swept Guam’s Jacob Jackson and Aarman Sachdev, 6-2, 6-4. Guam’s Gibson and Thomas Ysrael averted an all-CNMI title match in the division after eliminating Andy Kim and Isaac Heo in the other semis game, 6-3, 6-3.

In the girls U14 doubles, Kaga and Hye Jin Elliot are one win away from clinching the championship after downing compatriot Anika Camacho and Palau’s Galya Mikel in the semis, 6-0, 6-2. Kaga and Elliot will be pitted against the Guam-Palau tandem of Kaia Malalooti and Ngelittle Silmai in today’s finals after the latter prevailed against FSM’s Niqui Peterson and Isabella Sipos in the other semis pairing, 6-0, 6-3.

Kaga also moved closer to the singles crown in her age group after making it to the finals following a 6-2, 6-1 win over Malakooti. Kaga will go for the singles title today when she takes on FSM’s Ridianne Wolphagen, who knocked out Silmai, 6-1, 6-0.

In the girls U16, Miyawaki retained her perfect record (4-0) and kept the lead in the round-robin contest after shutting down Guam’s Aprile Kim yesterday. Miyawaki will vie for the division title today when she meets fellow CNMI player Maria Gregoire, who holds a 3-1 record, and may force a three-way tie (with Anne Skilling and Miyawaki) for the top spot if she stuns the former in the last match in the group.

In the doubles, Gregoire and Miyawaki won over Guam’s Paige Mantanona and Joycelyn Tenai, 6-2, 6-2, and can get the division title if they beat Guam’s Kim and FSM’s Skilling today.

In the boys U16 singles, Sam Ryu moved up to a 5-0 record and will duel fellow undefeated player Marshall Zang of Guam for the division crown. Ryu got win No. 5 after topping fellow CNMI player Eugene Park, 6-2, 6-1.

In the doubles, Ryu partnered with Park and they outclassed FSM’s Karl Manlapaz and Andy Sipos, 6-3, 7-6 (1) to move one win away from ruling the division. Ryu and Park must defeat compatriot Daniel Heo and Zang today to take the doubles plum.

U12 teams results
Anthony Gregoire and Kwon are still perfect with a 4-0 record in Day 4 of the team event.

The CNMI duo swept Guam Boys 2’s Gannon Sweeney and Logan Schembari to hike its points to 8, ahead of 2 markers against FSM 1 (6) and 3 over North Boys Combined.

Kwon beat Sweeney in the first singles, 6-0, 6-1, while Gregoire also took only two sets to down Schembari in the other singles play, 6-1, 6-1. The CNMI pair earned a similar 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Guam 2 in the doubles. Kwon and Gregoire will play their last game in the pool today when they challenge North Boys Combined and need another sweep to seal the title win.

In the girls division, the CNMI Girls 1 must also prevail in all three games against FSM Girls 1 today to steal the championship. CNMI Girls 1 holds a 2-1 record and 4 points for second place behind FSM Girls 1, which has earned 6 points against the three opponents it defeated.

CNMI Girls 1’s Helen Kim and Serin Chung defeated FSM Girls 2’s Shelly Palsis and Arthisha Mallarme in the two singles and one doubles matches to stay in the hunt for the division championship.

CNMI Girls 2’s Ye Jin Son and Dane Lee also won over Guam Girls’ Freemont Gibson and Sydney Packbler, 2-1, to finish the tournament with an even 2-2 mark.

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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