ITF World Tennis Tour Junior J5 Events in Fiji

“The Referee (Patrick O’Rourke) writes that “the 2 Two J5 tournaments were held in Lautoka in the last week of October and the first week of November. One event was a replacement for the Vanuatu tournament normally held at this time of year pre-covid and the other was to provide more opportunities for the best Pacific players from the POJC who have not had opportunities to travel to ITF events since 2019. Overall, the tournaments were a great success and, besides the “team” of Pacific players, there was very good support from Australia, Singapore and some other countries which made them truly international events. Despite playing in the rainy season only one day at each event was severely impacted by rain and the hot temperatures on the other days provided challenging conditions for the players.

After a slow start to the first tournament with the qualifying day being virtually wiped out due to rain there was some very good tennis played with several marathon matches lasting three hours or more. The girls singles final was one of the longest despite being two sets with Anna Rahman (JPN) beating Abigail Elham (INA) 76 63. In contrast top seed Cristian Care (AUS) beat compatriot Jay Fairclough 60 62 in just over an hour in the boys final. Care also claimed the boys doubles with Billy Williams over Cruz Hewitt and Jay Fairclough. The girls doubles final was also an all Australian affair won by Sophie McDonald and Sarah Rokusek, the top seeds, 63 75.

There was success for the Pacific players as well. Storm Cornish (FIJ) and Hiva Kelley (PYF) won their first round matches in the main draw, while Noah Ah Kim Win Chin (PYF) won through qualifying and lost narrowly in the first round. Zachary Sands (VAN) and Storm Cornish reached the semifinals of the boys doubles. None of the Pacific girls got past the first round in singles but Mahinarangi Warren and Roselyn Tupuola (SAM) reached the doubles quarter-finals.

The second week saw a repeat victory for Anna Rahman in the girls singles while in the boys Cristian Care just failed to repeat his first week victory going down to Cruz Hewitt (AUS) in three sets. In a real surprise Noah Molbaleh (VAN) and Maka Maui (COK) upset the fourth seeds in a thrilling match to reach the boys doubles final where they were soundly beaten by Nathan Lim (AUS) and Fanming Meng (CHN). Lim and Meng had earlier beaten Zachary Sands and Storm Cornish in the semi-finals. Cornish and Sands also recorded main draw wins in singles with Cornish making it to the quarter-finals. The girls doubles final was a repeat of week one with the same pairs playing and the result the same, a win for Rokusek and McDonald.

Among the Pacific girls Grace Debalevu (FIJ) battled hard to get past her Australian opponent and reach the second round before losing closely to the second seed. The win will give her an ITF ranking for the first time.

Overall, the tournaments served their purpose to provide additional tennis and ranking point opportunites for Pacific players. A consolation singles event was also played at the first tournament (rained out in the second week) to give the Pacific players additional play against overseas opponents. “

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