The CNMI Junior National Tennis Team was put in a tough test during the Nations Cup in Fiji last year and passed it to reign supreme in the 14-country field.
“This year’s (2017) Nations Cup was as close as it could possibly be. The score line shows us winning by one match, but several of the matches we took were actually won by one point, as we were playing no-add due to bad weather. So, in reality we won by a single point of tennis out of hundreds played. I am super proud of this team,” coach Jeff Race said in an earlier interview with Saipan Tribune after they got back from Fiji following their back-to-back wins in the Nations Cup and successful campaign in the 2017 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships.
Race and his CNMI Junior National Team were honored during the 2017 NMSA Annual Sports Banquet with the Hall of Famer getting his fifth Coach of the Year award and his junior crew taking home their second Team of the Year plum. The squad was made up of Robbie Schorr, Carol and Sean Lee, Isabel, Ji Min Woo, Seung Jin Paik, Conatsu and Coume Kaga, Maria and Anthony Gregoire, Hye Jin Elliot, Daniel Kang, Richard Steele, Song, Vincent Tudela, Grace Choi, Michael Ren, and Malika Miyawaki.
“It’s an honor to coach and work with this great bunch of young players,” said Race, who thanked Peter Loken and Dong Min Lee for also coaching some of the CNMI players.
Tudela, on behalf of the team, gave props to Race for the efforts, time, and patience he spent to them in ensuring the squad’s success.
“Hats off to coach Jeff and all the members of the team. We all work together to represent the CNMI well,” Tudela said.
Race started his work with the elite squad in early part of 2017 as he led the selection of the CNMI Junior Team that eventually topped the 2017 North Pacific Regional Championships held in Guam.
In the regionals, which also featured players from Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, the Race-coached squad brought home five championships after topping the boys and girls 16 and under singles, girls 16 and under doubles, boys 14 and under singles, and boys U12 team event.
Less than two months after the tournament in Guam, the CNMI bets traveled to Fiji and kept their momentum by clinching two titles (girls U16 singles and doubles) and making finals and semis appearances in several other events in the POJC. The Commonwealth bets went on to defeat the powerhouse teams of Tahiti, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia to bag the Nations Cup for the second straight year.