Redemption win for Steele, Cruz


Mixed-up doubles champion Bobby Cruz, left, and Richard Steele, center, pose for a photo with 2017 White Coconut Tennis Classic tournament director Jeff Race after receiving their awards last Monday at the Pacific Islands Club court. (Contributed Photo)

After falling short in their respective title bids in the singles competition of the 2017 White Coconut Tennis Classic, Richard Steele and Bobby Cruz redeemed themselves in the mixed-up doubles event following a straight sets win over Daniel Kang and Dong Min Lee last Monday at the Pacific Islands Club courts.
Steele earlier bowed to Kang in their morning match for the boys U12 singles title and returned to the hard court in the afternoon to pair with Cruz in beating their top-ranked foes in the finals, 6-4, 6-2. The mixed-up doubles title tiff was also Cruz’s second game for the day as he played in the men’s open singles finals opposite Moris Villanueva in the morning and lost, 2-6, 4-6.

The second-ranked Cruz and Steele moved into the title match after sweeping No. 5 seed Andy Kim and Colin Ramsey in the semis last Sunday, 6-1, 6-2. Lee and Kang, on the other hand, needed a super-tiebreaker third set before advancing to the finals and beating Isabel Heras and Hyunmin Cho, 4-6, 6-3, 10-6.

Meanwhile, Sean Lee, Ken Song, Maria Gregoire, and Brian Wessel completed the roster of winners in the singles event of the Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association-sanctioned tournament.

Wessel bagged the men’s over 40 singles crown after posting a 2-0 record in the round-robin contest. He first outclassed Mihai Leta last Sunday, 6-1, 6-3, and then completed his perfect run in the division last Monday following a 6-3, 6-1 triumph over Gary Ramsey. Leta went on to take the runner-up honors as he earlier topped Ramsey, 6-3, 6-4, during their last Saturday duel.

Sean Lee also earned a 2-0 mark en route to winning the boys U14 singles championship. The No. 1 seed drew a bye in the opening round and automatically moved into the semis where he defeated Andy Kim, 6-0, 6-1. Then in the finals, Sean shut down Eugene Park. Park marched into the finals after pulling off an upset over the second-ranked Sam Ryu, 6-2, 6-4.

Ryu rounded out the Top 3 in the boys U14 singles following his 2-6, 7-6, 10-4 victory over Kim. In another consolation game, Rintaro Miyawaki clinched fifth place after defeating Cho, 6-4, 6-0.

In the boys U16 singles, Song outlasted Vincent Tudela in an extended finale. Tudela drew first blood, escaping with a 7-5 win in the opening set, but the No. 2 seed faltered in his upset bid against the top-ranked Song after the latter swept the last two, 6-3, 10-7.

Before their tough title encounter, both Song and Tudela took the long route to the finals. Song slipped past Steven Goodwin in a super-tiebreaker third set, 4-6, 6-4, 10-6, while Tudela rallied against Tony Kim, 2-6, 6-1, 10-2. Tony moved into the semis after blanking Andy Cho, while Tudela followed suit as he routed Jeffrey Seo at the bottom half of the draw, 6-0, 6-1. At the top half, Song crushed Allan Lee, 6-0, 6-0, to set up a semis showdown against Goodwin, a 6-0, 6-1 winner over Ken Xue.

In the head-to-head girls U14 singles division, Gregoire swept Riko Ojima, 6-1,6-2.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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