Tony Kim ended his string of runner-up finishes in the boys U14 singles in the last tournament of the season.
Kim survived Ken Song, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, in their title showdown in last weekend’s 2015 CNMI Junior Tennis Championship at the American Memorial Park tennis courts to finally notch a boys U14 division crown under the Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association’s calendar of events for 2014-2015. Kim placed third in the first tournament of the season (Tan Holdings Tennis Classic and Coconut Tennis Classic) and second in last month’s PIC Tennis Championship.
The 12-year-old junior player boosted his chances for the first division championship of the season after notching two victories at the bottom half of the draw. He first eliminated A.J. Hudkins last Saturday morning, 6-1, 6-0, and came back in the afternoon to beat Haruya Eda in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-2. Eda advanced to the lower bracket semis following a walkover win against Steven Goodwin.
In the upper half of the draw, Song pulled off an upset over top-ranked Vincent Tudela in the semis, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, to set a finals date with Kim. Before losing to Song, Tudela marched into the semis following a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) triumph over Clayton Izuka, a 6-0, 6-1 winner against Jeffrey Seo. Song, on the other hand, gained a semis entry after downing Aditya Rai, 6-2, 6-1.
Meanwhile, Conatsu Kaga and Sean Lee also ruled their respective age groups to join Kim in the champions’ circle in NMITA’s final local tournament.
Conatsu clinched the girls U12 singles tiara after sweeping younger sister Coume in the finals, 6-4, 6-1. Conatsu made it to the finals following her victories in the upper half of the bracket against Hye Jin Elliot, 6-3, 6-1, and Maria Gregoire, 6-1, 6-2. Elliot and Gregoire advanced after defeating Tiara Imai, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) and Elie Epley, 6-0, 4-6, 6-1, respectively.
In the lower half of the draw, Coume arranged a family affair in the finals as she eliminated Susan Sablan, 6-3, 6-2, and Erika Tuttle, 6-7 (7-6), 6-4, 6-1. Tuttle settled for third place after outclassing Gregoire in the consolation match, 6-0, 6-1.
After disputing the girls U12 tiara in the morning, the Kagas returned to the AMP courts in the afternoon to team up and bag the division’s doubles championship. They won in the finals against Rico Ojima and Tuttle, 7-5, 6-4. The Kaga siblings barged into the finals after knocking out Hanah Ojima and Maaya Sato, 6-3, 6-0, while Tuttle and Rico followed suit after surviving Gregoire and Imai in three sets, 0-6, 6-0, 7-6 (7-3).
In the boys U12 singles finale, Sean Lee also took the long route to the Promised Land after slipping past Ji Min Woo in three sets, 6-3, 0-6, 6-3. Lee earned the finals berth in the lower bracket after ousting Daniel Kang, 6-2, 6-1, and Seung Jin Paik, 6-2, 6-3. In the upper bracket, Woo prevailed over Jack Jeong, 6-0, 6-0, and Rintaro Miyawaki, 6-1, 6-3, to move into the finals.
Despite losing to Lee in the singles finals, Woo did not go home empty-handed, as he took the top honors in the doubles division with Kang. Woo and Kang eked out a 6-2, 6-7 (7-9), 10-7 title win over Paik and Lee.
In the other doubles event—the boys U14 division—Tudela partnered with Michael Ren in sweeping Tony Kim and Song in the finals, 6-4, 6-2. The eventual champions barged into the finals after downing Eda and Rai, 6-1, 6-0, while Song and Kim won over Izuka and Hudkins, 6-2, 6-4.