The CNMI’s Carol Lee kicked off the season on a winning note after prevailing in the qualifier of the 2019 AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International yesterday in Victoria, Australia.
Lee swept Australia’s Maggie Pierce, 6-3, 6-2, in the opening round of the qualifying tournament at the Traralgon Tennis Association, moving one victory away from clinching a spot in the singles main draw. The No. 11 Lee will challenge fellow seeded player Yeon Woo Ku of South Korea today for a slot in the 64-player field. The No. 6 Ku set up a showdown against the Commonwealth player after eliminating Japan’s Koharu Nimii, 6-1, 6-4.
Joining Lee and Ku in the battle for the eight qualifying berths were Russia’s Veronika Pepelyaeva, Maria Bondarenko, and Maria Krupenina; Italy’s Alice Amendoza and Lisa Pigato; Poland’s Martyna Kubka; Japan’s Shiori Ito and Saki Imamura; Australia’s Tayla Whitehouse; Czech Republic’s Katerina Mandelikova; Malaysia’s Sara Nayar; India’s Shivani Amineni, New Zealand’s Elys Saguil-Ventura; and Sasha Wood of the U.S.
Lee’s first tournament for 2019 is a Grade 1 event, which awards as much as 280 Junior ITF ranking points in singles and 210 in the doubles. Grade 1 is the fourth highest in the level of events under the Juniors ITF Circuit with the Grand Slam/Youth Olympics on top of the list, giving out 1,000 and 750 points to the champions. At No. 2 is the Junior Masters and followed by Grade A, Grade 1/B1, Grade 2/B2, Grade 3/B3, Grade 4/B4, and Grade 5.
The 17-year-old Lee ruled a couple of Grade 4 and 5 competitions and made it to the finals of a B2 event once when she saw action in the Oceania Closed Junior Championships in Fiji last year.
She finished the 2018 season ranked No. 175 in the world (combined singles and doubles) and was busy in the last two months of the year after playing two tournaments each in Mexico and Florida. From the U.S. she headed to her father’s home country—South Korea—and then returned to Fiji at the International Tennis Federation/Oceania Tennis Federation regional training facility before traveling to Australia last Sunday.
In the Land Down Under, Lee is making her second appearance in the AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International. Last year, she also joined the qualifier of the Grade 1 tournament and was beaten in first round by Japan’s Ayumi Miyamoto, 6-3, 6-1.