The CNMI inched closer to getting three more medals in the XVI Pacific Games after Carol Lee, Colin Sinclair, and Robbie Schorr moved to the semifinals of their respective events, surviving multiple matches yesterday at the Apia Park Tennis Courts in Samoa.
Sinclair was the first to advance to the semis after sweeping Fiji’s William O’Connell in the men’s singles play, 6-3, 6-3. The No. 1 seed will face No. 3 Clement Mainguy of Vanuatu in the Final Four match today and a win would assure Sinclair and the CNMI a silver medal. Mainguy earned the right to challenge Sinclair in the semis following a 6-4, 6-3 triumph over No. 7 seed Macaco Rouas of New Caledonia.
In the other Final Four pairing, it will be No. 2 seed Papua New Guinea’s Matthew Stubbings against No. 15 and Tahiti’s Heimanarii Lai San after the former ousted Guam’s Camden Camacho, 6-1, 6-0, and the latter eliminated Tonga’s Matavao Faleta Fanguna, 6-4, 7-6(4).
Following his entry to the semis of the men’s singles event or just 10 minutes later, Sinclair returned to the court and played with Schorr in the men’s doubles third round, defeating the Solomon Islands’ Charlie Junior Benjamin and Popai Leong, 6-0, 6-1. Schorr and Sinclair, who along with Ken Song handed the Commonwealth a gold medal in the team event last week, then toppedd No. 7 seed and American Samoa’s Christian Duchnak and Larry Magalasin, 6-3, 6-1, to reach the semifinals and guarantee the CNMI a chance to play in the medal round.
The No. 1 seed CNMI duo will next take on Rouas and William Bruchard, the No. 6 seed in the draw and winners in their quarterfinal duel against Guam’s Camacho and Daniel Llarenas, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 10-4. The other semis showdown will feature Samoa’s Leon and Marvin Soonalole going up against the Tongan pair of Matavao and Semisi Fanguna. The Samoan tandem and No. 4 seed pulled off an upset over No. 3 Mainguy and Cyril Jacobe, 6-3, 2-6, 10-8, while the Fangunas also stunned No. 2 seed Stubbings and Mark Gibbons in the other Round of 8 tiff, 3-6, 6-0, 10-7.
Meanwhile, Sinclair concluded his busy schedule with a mixed doubles game, which he also played after only a 10-minute break following his and Schorr’s victory. Sinclair and Lee, the No. 2 seed in the field, ended up giving the CNMI its third semis seat in the tournament after rallying past No. 8 Leon Soonalole and Eleanor Schuster. The Commonwealth players dropped the first set, 2-6, but avoided elimination and boosted the CNMI’s medal chances after dominating the last two, 6-2, 10-3, to the dismay of the screaming partisan home crowd.
“Colin and Carol had the most dramatic win of the day in front of several hundred Samoans,” head coach Jeff Race said.
After the hectic schedule yesterday, Lee and Sinclair’s hands will still be full today, as they square off against a well-rested Brett Baudinet and Tamara Anderson of the Cook Islands for a spot to the gold medal game. Baudinet and Anderson got a free pass to the semifinals after a win via walkover against PNG’s Gibbons and Violet Apisah. In the other Final Four pairing, No. 1 seed Abigail Tere-Apisah and Stubbings will meet Duchnak and Kalani Soli after easing their way (walkover) to the next round, as fatigue took its toll on their respective opponents.
In other results, Lee battled exhaustion, as she also played three other matches before pairing up with Sinclair. She had the toughest quarterfinal assignment in the women’s singles yesterday, losing to the No. 1 seed Abigail Tere-Apisah, 0-6, 4-6. Lee then teamed up with Isabel Heras in sweeping Tahiti’s Estelle Tehau and Chrissy Vongue, 6-0, 6-1, to make it to the quarterfinals where the CNMI pair had a heartbreaking loss. Heras and Lee defeated No. 3 Patricia Apisah and Marcia Tere-Apisah in the first set, 6-3, and was two points away from clinching a semis berth, 4-3, when the PNG pair stole the second, 6-4, and completed the comeback with a 10-6 victory in the super-tiebreaker third.
“Today (yesterday) was a good day for the NMI Team, but not a perfect one. We are excited about our chances of winning three more medals in the final days of competition in the Pacific Games,” Race said.