Back-to-back singles title wins handed Richard Steele the top spot in the Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association Junior Rankings.
Steele leads the boys U14 rankings with his 3,875 points, according to the information released by NMITA last Tuesday. The 14-year-old player got 1,500 points for ruling the singles event in last weekend’s 2018 CNMI Junior Tennis Championships and 1,000 for prevailing in the same age group contest in the 2018 Coconut Tennis Classic held last February. The Mt. Carmel School student’s other ranking points came from the 2017 TanHoldings Tennis Classic (750 in singles and 250 in doubles) and the junior championships (375 for winning the doubles event with Andy Kim), and he has the most points among all players so far this season.
Steele is ahead by 900 points against Daniel Kang, who placed runner-up to the former in the last two tournaments to record 2,975 ranking points. Kang tallied 1,125 in singles and 300 in doubles in last weekend’s competition and registered 800 in the TanHoldings event and 750 in the Coconut Classic.
NMITA uses the rankings as one of the basis for selecting players that will represent the CNMI to the North Pacific Regional Championships, which will be held in Guam in June this year. NMITA official and CNMI Junior Team coach Jeff Race said they may have to submit the Commonwealth’s roster for the competition in Guam before the last event of the season—the 2018 PIC Tennis Championships. The Pacific Islands Club-sponsored event will start and conclude the juniors games this weekend and Race will ask the NPRC organizers if the CNMI will be allowed to turn in the players’ names once the PIC competition is done and points are added for the final rankings.
Meanwhile, joining Steele and Kang in the Top 5 are Andy Kim (2,575), Isaac Heo (1,413), and Hyun Min Cho (1,250). Other players who have gained at least 1,000 ranking points are Seung Won Lee (1,200), Eubin Park (1,125), and Seung Jin Paik (1,000).
In other age groups, Ken Song, Sam Ryu, and David Kwon pace the boys U18, U16, and U12, respectively.
Song has earned 2,450 points to lead Sean Lee (1,875), Jim Min Woo (1,750), Robbie Schorr (1,000), and Seung Jin Paik (1,000). Schorr, the leader last season played only in the TanHoldings Classic and won the event, as he was mostly competing off-island this year.
Ryu collected 1,500 in last weekend’s event to bring his total to 1,750, ahead of the 1,275 of Daniel Heo, 1,000 of Schorr, 900 of Jonathan Lim, and 750 of Woo. Kwon, on the other hand, has posted 3,350 for a 1,000-plus margin against Juncheol Hwang (2,025). Others in the Top 5 are Ruma Lee (1,500), Anthony Gregoire (1,250), and Nason Wessel (1,250).