CNMI coach Jeff Race believes his team has a very good chance in ruling two age groups in the ITF North Pacific Regional Championships 2015.
“We definitely have strong U14 and U12 teams competing in this month’s North Pacific championships,” Race said in a telephone interview with Saipan Tribune last Tuesday. “I am positive we will finish in the Top 4 in those two age groups.”
Race has Tania Tan, Malika Miyawaki, Mimi Sakano, and Asia Raulerson entered in the girls U14 division, while the boys roster is composed of Robbie Schorr, Ken Song, Vincent Tudela, Steven Goodwin, and Haruya Eda. For the boys U12, the Commonwealth will be represented by Rintaro Miyawaki, Sean Lee, Seung Jin Paik, and Ji Min Woo, while the CNMI’s U12 team has siblings Conatsu and Coume Kaga, Erica Tuttle, and Maria Gregoire. Isabel Heras and Ami Tsukagoshi complete the Commonwealth delegation and will be playing in the girls U16 division of the regionals, which Guam will be hosting from June 15 to 20.
Tan won last year’s girls U14 singles crown and prevailed too in the doubles with partner Julia Ishikawa. Schorr, on the other hand, ruled the boys U12 and is among the favorites in the U14 age group this year. Schorr also bagged last year’s boys U12 doubles crown with Song, while Conatsu and Malika topped the girls U12 doubles contest.
Tan and company have been training under Race’s watch since last month. Some of the Guam-bound players also saw action in the 2015 IT&E Northern Marianas Junior Championships and the exposure in the Junior ITF event is an added boost to the Commonwealth’s bets.
“They’ve been doing well in practice and continue to improve their games,” Race added.
Race’s wards will be playing against the host’s players and representatives from Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Besides aiming for the age group championships in the U12, U14, and U16 singles and doubles, the CNMI junior players will also vie for slots on the North Pacific team that will compete in the 2015 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji this August. Race said, initially the Top 3 finishers in the singles event of the various age groups get spots on the team, but there could be more slots at stake depending on the decision of the tournament organizer.