The CNMI can count on a strong tennis team and a well-prepared golf squad in the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa.
Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association official and coach Jeff Race, during the Northern Marianas Sports Association monthly meeting last week, said they will have a strong team for the quadrennial meet that will be held from July 7 to 20, as the squad will be led by two players who are doing well in international tournaments.
NMITA has yet to name its men’s and women’s squads, but Colin Sinclair and Carol Lee, who are competing in the ITF Circuit (Pro and Juniors, respectively), are considered as shoe-ins. Sinclair is the highest-ranked Pacific player (ranked as high as No. 69) in the World ITF and early this month, he won his first pro title in California. He continues to join world-ranking tournaments while waiting for the competition in Samoa.
Lee, on the other hand, is in Morocco to train at the International Tennis Federation/Confederation of African Tennis Regional Training Centre and play in several high-level tournaments. She recently played in the 2019 Australian Open Juniors and is currently ranked No. 168 in the world.
“We have a strong team. The CNMI have never won a medal in the tennis tournament in the Pacific Game, but I think this year, we have a pretty good chance,” Race said.
The CNMI Hall of Famer added that seven players are trying out for the four slots on the men’s squad and they are training as a group three times a week. Players also hold their own training sessions.
As for the CNMI National Golf Team, player-coach Joe “Kamikaze” Camacho said that this year’s group is the most prepared crew ever assembled.
“I’ve played for the national team many times and I could proudly say that this squad is the most prepared one,” said Camacho, who led a series of qualifiers mid last year and made the selection in the first month of 2019.
The veteran will be teaming up with junior golfers Edward Lee and Sebastian Camacho and perennial local tournament winners Ryan Kim and J.J. Atalig. Also on the squad is alternate and another veteran—Tony Satur.
Sebastian Camacho and Lee will be competing in a high-level tournament in the Philippines later this month as part of their preparations for the Pacific Games. When they return to Saipan, Sebastian, Lee, and Joe, which will accompany the two junior golfers in the Philippines, will rejoin their teammates in their four times a week training sessions.