Ayana Rengiil & Mulan Kamoe
A contingent of six under 14 players from five different Pacific nations took part in a tour to Australia comprising a three-day team event and then an Australian Junior Tour bronze event, both staged in Melbourne in December.
The Showdown U14 Team Cup featured the top players from all of the Australian states and each round consisted of two singles and one doubles match. The Pacific team found the matches challenging as most of their opponents held high national rankings but all the players improved steadily with the girls' team having match points in their singles and doubles rubbers against Western Australia.
In between the two events the team was given many great experiences by Tennis Australia including playing on the indoor courts at the National Tennis Centre and training on the new European clay courts. A big highlight of the tour was an interview shown by the ABC network on national television and broadcast throughout the Pacific on radio.
The Junior bronze event, for Australian players, provided the boys with the novel experience of playing on clay. Three rounds of qualifying were needed to make the main draw, a feat accomplished by Tahitians Michael Emery and Christopher Shan. First round losses in the main draw meant places for the boys in the Consolation event where Shan beat Emery in the first round 75 63, with Shan being defeated by Ryan O’Meara 63 64 in the next round. Ben Pechan, of Vanuatu lost in the qualifying event but reached the second round of the boys’ doubles, as did his teammates Emery and Shan.
In the girls' event, Palau’s Ayana Rengiil and Carol Lee, of Northern Mariana Islands had to play two rounds to qualify for the main draw. Rengiil narrowly lost in the first round to Ellen Lawrence Ashley 62 26 75 who eventually finished in 3rd place in the girls’ singles. Rengiil and Lee progressed through the Consolation event with Lee defeating her teammate in the semifinals 63 63, before going on to win the final against Hana Kim 60 61.
Mulan Kamoe, of Fiji was number one seed in the main draw and reached the quarterfinals before losing 64 61 to the fifth seed Olivia Ryan.
Rengiil and Kamoe teamed up to win the girls’ doubles event title beating third seeds Ruby Clayton and Stephanie Hird 64 64 in the finals.
The team players were a credit to their federations and it is hoped that this tour will return to Melbourne in 2014.
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