CNMI junior tennis player Carol Lee more than lived up to her expectations in the Oceania Open Junior Championships 2015 held in Lautoka, Fiji late last month.
Lee made it to the semifinals of the girls U18 singles to barge into the Final Four of an ITF Juniors event for the first time since joining the circuit this year.
“I expect myself to at least get into the quarterfinals, so at first I couldn’t really believe that I made it to the semifinals,” the 13-year-old player said.
Lee advanced to the semifinals of the competition held from July 27 to Aug. 1 after sweeping Hong Kong’s Justine Sophie Leong in their quarterfinals showdown in the upper half of the draw, 6-1, 6-2. In the earlier rounds, the unranked Lee dominated Australia’s Emily Thompson, 6-1, 6-0, and then stunned the third-seeded Stella Cliffe, also of Australia, 6-0, 6-3, to earn a Round of 8 slot.
With her three wins, Lee arranged a semis duel against another seeded foe in Hong Kong’s Claudia Ng, who was ranked fifth in the draw. The Hong Kong bet went on to end Lee’s streak after notching a 6-3, 6-2 victory in the semifinals. Ng eventually topped the event following a 7-5 (6), 6-1 victory over the second-ranked Ella Husrefovic of Australia. Husrefovic took the other finals berth after eliminating Lee’s fellow Pacific Oceania player Ayana Rengiil of Palau in the bottom draw semifinals, 6-3, 6-0.
Despite losing in the semifinals, Lee was happy with her accomplishment in the Grade 5 tournament.
“I was happy and proud of myself because I have never been into the semifinals of the ITF Juniors event before,” Lee said.
The Saipan Community School student also joined the doubles event of the same competition, but she and Rengiil bowed to Australia’s Emily Price and Daniela Kovacevic. Lee and Rengiil won the opening set, 6-3, but dropped the last two, 3-6, 2-10.
Meanwhile, Lee also played in the Oceania Closed Junior Championships 2015, which was held in Fiji too, from Aug. 4 to 8.
The CNMI bet managed to make it past the opening round after topping Australia’s Monique Belovukovic, 6-2, 6-2, before falling to Australia’s Michaela Haet, 5-7, 1-6, in the second round. In the doubles, Lee teamed up anew with Rengiil and they lost to Husrefovic and Jessica Zaviacic of Australia in the first round, 5-7, 4-6.
Lee is still in Fiji and will be reunited with 13 other CNMI players as they anchor the North Pacific Team’s campaign in next week’s Pacific Oceania Junior Championships.