Tennis players can stand ground in Pacific, Mini Games


The CNMI’s Carol Lee, standing fourth left, Isabel Heras, standing fifth left, and Conatsu Kaga, kneeling center, pose with other winners in the Inaugural Nations Cup Pacific during the closing ceremony last Tuesday in Fiji. (Ocenia Tennis Federation)

The CNMI junior tennis players’ notable performance in the Inaugural Nations Cup Pacific may make them contenders in the Pacific and Mini Games.

“The strong games that our players showed in Fiji meant we are capable of fielding a competitive team in the Pacific and Mini Games,” CNMI coach Jeff Race said.

Carol Lee, Isabel Heras, and Conatsu Kaga won the women’s division of the tournament held in Fiji early this week after downing Samoa in the finals, 2-1, while Robbie Schorr, Ken Song, and Jimin Woo finished in the Top 10 in the men’s field.

“The question now is if we could put them together with other CNMI players off-island. If we could also bring in Colin Sinclair, we will have a chance in next year’s Pacific Games in Samoa,” Race added.

Sinclair, who is based in the mainland, has been playing in the ITF Pro Circuit since 2013, and this year suited up for the Pacific Oceania Davis Cup Team.

Thea Minor and Mikayla Lopez are the other off-island players. Minor played her last season at Henderson State University in the NCAA Division II this year. Lopez, on the other hand, is still with the New Mexico Military Institute—a Division I school under the National Junior College Athletics Association.

The six junior players who competed for the CNMI in the Nations Cup will remain in Fiji to work out at the International Tennis Federation/Oceania Tennis Federation training facility and compete in a series of tournaments there and in New Caledonia.

Meanwhile, Race will bring several other junior players to Guam this weekend for the 2018 North Pacific Regional Championships—a qualifier for the 2019 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships that will also take place in Fiji this summer.

The CNMI delegation to the Guam-hosted regionals is made up of Sam Ryu, Daniel Heo, Eugene Park, Malika Miyawaki, Maria Gregoire, Seung Jin Paik, Daniel Kang, Andy Kim, Isaac Heo, Coume Kaga, Anika Camacho, Hyejin Elliot, Anthony Gregoire, David Kwon, and Juncheol Hwang. They will play against the representatives of the host country, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia from June 11 to 16.

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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