Lee stuns Spanish foe in Morocco


Carol Lee makes a return during a Junior ITF Circuit event on Saipan last year at the Pacific Islands Club. She is in Morocco and still in contention in both the singles and doubles events of the ITF/CAT North African Circuit 2017. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The CNMI’s Carol Lee pulled off the first major upset in the ITF/CAT North African Circuit 2017 after sweeping her ranked Spanish opponent in the opening round of the Grade 3 competition last Tuesday at the Oceanic Club Casablancais in Casablance, Morocco.

The unseeded Lee was pitted against No. 5 and world No. 261 Irene Garceran and recorded a 6-2, 6-3 victory to advance to the second round. Garceran was the highest-seeded player to get the early boot in the tournament, joining No. 8 Sabhyata Nihalani of India to the exit door.

With Lee’s upset over Garceran, the Commonwealth player is on a collision course with No. 1 seed Sina Suger of Switzerland. The Swiss labored a 7-5 victory over the United States’ Lauren Stein in the opening set and then cruised to a 6-2 triumph in the second to make it to the next round against Russia and lucky loser Maria Dzemeshekevich. The Russian also had a hard time in the first set of its match against the host and wild card entry Hiba El Khalifi before escaping with a 7-5, 6-3 win.

The winner of the Suger-Dzemeshekevich tiff at the upper half of the draw will face in the quarterfinals the victor of the second round match between Lee and Algeria’s Lynda Benkaddour. Lee’s Round 2 opponent is a wild card entry in the 32-player field and survived the opener after beating Australia’s Caitlyn Portela, 6-2, 6-2.

Meanwhile, Lee also prevailed in her first match in the doubles competition.

The 15-year-old player is paired with Great Britain’s Danielle Daley and they eased past Dzemeshekevich and Greece’s Rafalia Nikoletta Fulop in the opening round, 6-0, 6-2. Lee and Daley are now in the quarterfinals where they will face tough opponents in No. 1 seeds Zoziya Kardava and Avelina Sayfetdinova of Russia. The Russian pair also needed only two sets to advance to the Round of 8 after outclassing Nihalani and Stein, 6-2, 6-4.

With her pair of victories in the first round, Lee is already assured of ranking points from her second Junior ITF Circuit tournament in Morocco. The CNMI player first competed in the 2017 Mediterranée Avenir last week and earned 20 ranking points for making it to the Round of 32 in the Grade 1 tournament—the highest ranking event she entered in so far. The additional points brought Lee’s total from 120 to 125 in the singles and 141.25 combined points (from 136.25) and moved her up to the ladder, from No. 353 to No. 336 in the world—her highest rank.

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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