Many-time CNMI National Junior Tennis Team member Malika Miyawaki proved once again that one can mix sports and school and excel in both, as she graduated valedictorian of the Class of 2020 at the Saipan International School last Saturday.
Miyawaki shared the class’ top honor with Anika Snyder, another student-athlete, as the latter was on SIS’ track team and the CNMI National Team that competed in the Oceania Micronesian Regional Championships 2018 and in the Asia Pacific Invitational Cross Country Championships (2018 and 2019).
As for Miyawaki, she represented the CNMI in the North Pacific Junior Championships and the Pacific Oceania Junior Championships numerous times after joining the sport when she was just 6 years old. She also competed for the NMI in Australia and New Zealand as part of the ITF Pacific Oceania Touring Team, the Northern Marianas Junior Championships, and last year’s Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa.
She regularly trains for tennis matches here and off-island while playing for SIS in volleyball in interscholastic leagues (both the Public School System and Commonwealth Coalition of Private School Association-organizes competitions) and athletics (track and cross country).
Miyawaki has been involved in these sports activities while dealing with her studies and college preparations and other school responsibilities, such as being the president of the Geckos’ student council.
When asked how and why she decided to live a “double life,” she said that she loves challenging herself.
“I think I was able to do that by pushing myself to go over my limit. No matter how tired I was, I always told myself that I have to study. When I had to study, I was able to wake up at anytime. So I would wake up three or fours before school starts and studied then,” Miyawaki said.
The SIS valedictorian added that time management is key.
“I also tried to always make good use of time. For example, if I had mentoring from 3pm to 3:30pm and then tennis lesson from 5:15pm, I did my homework at Pacific Islands Club before my lesson,” said Miyawaki, who started offering basic tennis lessons for free to young kids months after Saipan was hammered by Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018.
Miyawaki is bound for Atlanta, Georgia, as she got a full ride scholarship at Emory University.
She looks forward to more challenges, as she moves up to the collegiate level. And of course, she wants to continue playing tennis.
“I am planning to play club tennis in college. I want to study hard but also continue playing sports. I cannot imagine myself not playing any sports,” Miyawaki said.