The Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association has started to assemble a team to represent the CNMI for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games that will consist of some of the CNMI’s top tennis players.
Although the inclusion of tennis in the 2022 Pacific Mini Games is still subject to approval by the Mini Games committee, Jeff Race, CNMI National Tennis team coach and NMI Tennis Association official, said that many of the CNMI’s top players will come back to represent the Commonwealth in the prestigious event.
“We have all of those top players coming back, including our professional player, Colin Sinclair. We should also have Robbie Schorr, Ken Song, Carol Lee, and Isabel Heras, and [more]. We’re going to have very, very strong teams,” he said.
With Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ backing of the inclusion, Race said the Mini Games committee would most likely include the sport which and by doing so, gives the CNMI a good chance at winning some medals in the games.
“Tennis is the most successful sport in the CNMI. It’s the only sport that we won medals in [during] the 2019 Games in Samoa. We won three gold medals and a silver medal. That’s the most success the CNMI ever had in the Games. They will approve it if the governor has appropriated the money,” Race said.
Race said NMITA is very excited about the inclusion and hopes to see support for the CNMI team from the community.
“We’re very excited that we get to have this competition here at home. We hope that a lot of CNMI fans will come out and cheer for our tennis players and enjoy watching and hopefully watch our players win medals,” he said.
“It’s the first time that we’ve ever had a Pacific Games here in the CNMI. It’s the biggest Games we’ve ever been privileged to have. We’ve had the Micronesia Games here twice and we did very well both of those times. But that was a competition that we’re very handy at. The Pacific Games is a whole other animal but we’ll see how we do,” he added.
In terms of preparations, a big step has already been taken to make the American Memorial Park tennis courts Mini Games-ready which is replacing the lights in three of the four courts.
The next step, Race said, is for all four courts to be resurfaced. Fortunately, according to the National Park Service, the resurfacing of the courts is expected before the end of this year.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, initially, the Mini Games was scaled down to just six events and the proposed budget was trimmed from $8 million to $3 million. With the inclusions of three new sports to the events calendar, including tennis, the Mini Games will now feature nine events bumping the needed funding up to $4 million.
Initial payment in preparation of the events will be remitted to the Pacific Mini Games 2022 Organizing Committee by the CNMI Department of Finance within this month.