The rose among the thorns bloomed in the opening week of the 2016 White Coconut Tennis Classic as Carol Lee made it to the semifinals of the male-dominated Open singles event.
Lee, the lone female entry in the most competitive singles contest in the annual tournament, slipped past fellow junior player Vincent Tudela in a three-set match last Sunday at the Pacific Islands Club to earn the last Final Four berth in the division. She dropped the opening set, 5-7, but foiled Tudela’s bid for an upset against the World Junior ITF-ranked player after dominating the last two. Lee coasted to a 6-1 victory in the second set and then completed the come-from-behind win with a 10-2 triumph in the super tiebreaker third set.
With the victory, Lee arranged a semis duel against Moris Villanueva at the lower half of the bracket. Villanueva needed only two sets to make it to the Final Four first as he swept Colin Ramsey last Saturday, 6-3, 6-2.
The other semis pairing will pit Micronesian Games veteran Bobby Cruz against new Saipan Tennis Academy owner and Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan tennis pro Peter Loken. Cruz took the second semis seat in the division following a 6-3, 6-0 win versus junior player Robbie Schorr. Loken bagged the third Final Four ticket as he also defeated a young player in Ken Song last Sunday, 6-4, 6-0.
The Cruz-Loken and Lee-Villanueva semis matches will be played this weekend, while the title game is expected to take place on Monday.
Meanwhile, the semis cast of the boys U12 and U14 singles events were also completed over the weekend.
In the boys U14 singles, the qualifiers were Ji Min Woo, Sean Lee, Allan Lee, and Seung jin Paik. Paik eased his way into the semifinals following a shutout win over Sam Ryu at the bottom half of the draw. Allan Lee, on the other hand, nearly duplicated Woo’s feat after a 6-0, 6-1 victory against Go Sekiguchi. Allan and Paik will collide in the semifinals this weekend.
Woo and Sean Lee will square off in the other Final Four match after eliminating their respective foes. Woo dominated Jeffrey Seo, 6-1, 6-1, while Sean outclassed Eugene Park, 6-2, 7-5.
In the boys U12 singles, Daniel Kang led the semis cast following his 7-5, 6-1 win over Anthony Gregoire. Kang will be up against Min Jin Cho, who waltzed past Chris Ryu, 6-2, 6-2. Rintaro Miyawaki and Richard Steele rounded out the Final Four qualifiers as they blanked Jae Hoon Son and Seung Won Lee.