“This is tennis’ year,” CNMI Sports Hall of Famer Jeff Race said.
The CNMI National Team Team won the major awards in the Northern Marianas Sports Association Annual Banquet held last Wednesday night at the Hibiscus Hall of the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan. Robbie Schorr and Carol Lee took the Tan Siu Lin Foundation/NMSA Student Athletes of the Year plums, Colin Sinclair was named Male Athlete of the Year, Race got the Coach of the Year trophy, and the squad that handed the CNMI three gold medals and one silver from the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa was honored as Team of the Year. Athletes Ken Song, Tania Tan, Isabel Heras, and Malika Miyawaki and assistant coach Lydia Tan are the other members of the CNMI National Tennis Team.
“It’s tennis’ year not just because of these awards, but in so many ways. There’s Carol’s success in ITF Juniors, as she became the first CNMI player to compete in the U.S. Open and the Australian Open (juniors), then Colin winning his first pro title in ATP and also dominating the Pacific Games. Also, after 30 years of coaching and many times competing, we finally won medals in the Pacific Games,” Race said.
The long-time CNMI tennis official won his record fourth Coach of the Year plum (2019, 2017, 2012, 2007).
“This one is very special because I did it by helping our team prevail in the Pacific Games.
Last Wednesday’s recognition is also memorable for both Lee and Schorr because they received the award reserved for student-athletes in their last year in high school. The two tennis players will be off to college this fall and will continue to play after receiving athletic scholarships from their respective schools.
“It is very special for me to get this award as this will be my last time,” said Lee, who committed to play for NCAA Division 1’s Georgia Tech.
Lee won the award a record fifth time (tying track star Jacque Wonenberg’s mark) and it was the first time she personally received the trophy after missing the banquet in 2017 and 2018 (she was off-island competing).
“I didn’t achieve this by myself. My family, coaches, and friends helped me,” the 19-year-old said.
Schorr personally received all his Male Student Athlete of the Year awards (four) and he is happy to make it back-to-back before he moves up to the collegiate ranks.
“I’m super happy to again be picked to receive this award. It’s an honor to win this award and represent the CNMI off island,” said Schorr, who will play for William Woods.
“This award is just as special as the other ones and it is a motivation for me to keep on working and playing hard,” the Saipan International School senior said.
‘Close to my heart’
Sinclair could not make it to the awards ceremony, as he is in Florida competing in a pro tournament, but he sent a video to NMSA to thank everyone who helped him reach a lot of milestones.
“I am humbled to be selected for this award because I know there are many great athletes on Saipan. This award is special. It’s close to my heart because my mom (Kathryn/2001) won the same trophy, which we still have in our home,” Sinclair said.
He also shared the award to his teammates, Race, and Lydia Tan.
“Big thanks to Jeff for getting me started with my tennis journey and helping me with my pro career. You are doing a great work on Saipan, getting many kids to play tennis,” Sinclair added.