It’s now the CNMI National Junior Tennis Team’s turn to hit the court and make the Commonwealth proud, as games in the 2019 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships kick off today in Lautoka, Fiji.
Juncheol Hwang, Daniel Kang, David Kwon, Anthony Gregoire, Helen Kim, Hyejin Elliot, Serin Chung, Jimin Woo, Sean Lee, Sam Ryu, and Maria Gregoire will be the CNMI’s representatives to the POJC—another regional competition that opens than a week after the XVI Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa. Jeff Race, who guided the CNMI to a four-medal (three golds and one silver) haul in the Pacific Games, will also coach the junior players in the POJC.
Woo and Ryu will start the Commonwealth’s bid in the tournament, as they see action in the boys U16 singles event’s first set of matches. Ryu will duel the Federated State of Micronesia’s Deavyn Etscheit in the 9am (7am Saipan time) Group A match on Court 6 of the International Tennis Federation’s Regional Training Centre, while on Court 4, Woo will take on Fiji’s Daniel Kumar for the Group D game. Tahiti’s Vaitea Molinier and the Norfolk Island’s Sam Cribb complete Group D, while Vanuatu’s Clement Mainguy and Tahiti’s Mohearii will join Ryu and Etscheit in Group A of the pool play.
Lee is also playing in the boys U16 singles and is on Group B with Samoa’s Philip Warren, Tahiti’s Manovai Elit, and Kiribati’s Torua Boari. He will challenge Warren on Court 6 after Ryu and Etscheit’s tiff.
Maria Gregoire will have her first match, too on Court 6, as she faces the Solomon Islands’ Prudence Bird in the Group A pairing in the girls U16 singles. Samoa’s Eleanor Schuster is the other player in Group A, while Group B has Fiji’s Saoirse Breen, FSM’s Ridianne Wol[hagen, and the Norfolk Islands’ Hannah Wright. Samoa’s Penina Kamu, Tahiti’s Chrissy Vonge, and Vanuatu’s Joanita Takatavety are in Group C, while the Solomon Islands’ Zorika Morgan, FSM’s Anne Skilling, and Tahiti’s Celine Snogan make up Group D.
In the girls U14 singles, Elliot will square off against Fiji’s Fazneen Fareen in Group A, which also has Tahiti’s Vaiani Dusserre-Valleaux. Kim is in Group C and will debut against Samoa’s Roselyn Tupuola, while the other pairing in the pool will have the Cook Islands’ Te Akaiti Toa taking on Kiribati’s Ereto Tabekatarawa. In Group D, Chung will collide with Fiji’s Charlotte Nicolaus, while the Cook Islands’ Moana Une will meet FSM’s Leilah Etscheit.
In the boys U14 singles, Anthony Gregoire’s first match in Group A is against Tahiti’s Noah Chin, while Group C’s Kwon and Group D’s Kang are battling FSM’s Jones George and Vanuatu’s Noah Molbaleh, respectively.
Players in the U14 and U16 singes will battle in pool play to determine the playoff qualifiers, while U12 bets will compete in the team event.
Hwang is the CNMI’s lone player in the U12 age group and will team up with the representatives of Tuvalu, as they duel Guam in the opening game today.