CNMI Sports Hall of Famer Jeff Race and the Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association had their Podcast pilot last Monday, featuring Pacific Games multiple gold medalist and pro player Colin Sinclair.
Race, who was inspired by Northern Mariana Islands Football Association Executive Committee member Norman Del Rosario’s Footcast with Norman, said the NMITA Podcast will have past and present CNMI players discussing their journey in the sport.
Sinclair’s started when he was 5 years old, as he picked up a tennis racket and trained under Race. He played in the CNMI for almost five years before moving to Australia where he continued trading volleys and serves until high school and then jumped to the collegiate level, as he suited up for Cornell University.
“I just got lucky that I was able to go to Cornell,” said the 25-year-old player.
Sinclair was supposed to go to Dartmouth, but his spot was taken by another player, who incidentally was slated to join Cornell.
“So we sort of swap places,” said Sinclair, who had to challenge one of Cornell’s junior player when he visited the school to earn his slot on the squad.
“The coach did not know me, so it really felt good that I was able to show him what I can do,” Sinclair said.
After completing his stint with Cornell and just when people were expecting that he could call it a career, Sinclair decided to keep on playing and this time join the pro tours (both the ATP and ITF).
Race noted that most college players don’t pursue pro competitions after graduation and instead focus on new career.
“I took the other way because I felt like I am not done with tennis yet. I have time to grow and things to improve,” Sinclair said.
After finishing college, the 2019 NMSA Athlete of the Year competed in pro tournaments in Europe, U.S., Australia, and Asia. The gamble produced five straight finals appearances in 2018 and a pro title in 2019. Sinclair also reached a career-high ranking of 410 in the ATP, over $32,000 prize money, and three gold medals plus one silver in last year’s Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa.
“That (winning for the CNMI in the Pacific Games) was very special,” said Sinclair, who is now in Canada for a much-deserved break, as he awaits the resumption of play in the ATP and ITF.