Rafael Jones, seen here in action in a local tournament at the AMP tennis courts, topped the U18 singles event in the 2011 North Pacific Qualifying Tournament at the Rick Ninete Tennis Center in Guam. (Roselyn B. Monroyo) 
Jones lost the opening set, 3-6, but redeemed himself in the last two sets, 7-5, 6-3, to finish the round-robin tournament with a perfect 3-0 record. Jones' two other wins came from Guam's Alexander Ornbo, 6-3, 6-1, and Kenta Tanimoto, 6-2, 6-1.

In his third match that went the distance, Jones showed a lot of heart, as he battled fatigue and cramps to win the tough match in front of a home crowd.

“I am very proud of Raffy for showing such mental toughness. He went out there cramping in the third set and won a very tight game,” CNMI coach Jeff Race said.

Jones battled Penafiel for more than three hours and won the championship he lost to Guam's Martin Lai last year, 3-6, 0-6.

“Raffy is now the No. 1 U18 player in the North Pacific,” Race added.

Jones is also assured of a slot on the North Pacific Team that will compete in the 2011 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji.

Meanwhile, most of the CNMI junior netters were still unstoppable in Tuesday action of the NPQ, as all six entries of the Commonwealth in the boys U15 singles made it to the quarterfinals.

Leading the six CNMI bets in the Elite 8 were Christian Miller and Amami Sakano, who went unbeaten in three games after two days of competition. Miller complete a sweep of his Pool A matches after beating Guam's Ryan Freeman in Day 2, 6-0, 6-0, while Sakano also topped Pool B and finished with a 3-0 card, following a 6-2, 6-0 triumph over Guam's Joshua Cepeda.

Joining the two top pool finishers to the next round were teammates Seiya Eda, Chris Cajigan, Angelo Jones, and Jake Lee.

Eda placed second in Pool A with his 2-1 record, winning his last pool match against Guam's Jeremiah Nelsen, 6-4, 6-3. Lee and Cajigan finished 1 and 2 in Pool B with the former getting a 3-0 card after defeating Guam's Jonathan Toves, 6-0, 6-0. Cajigan had back-to-back wins in Day 2, thumping Toves, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, and whipping Andrew Chung, also from Guam, 6-2, 6-4, to recover from his Day 1 loss to Lee, 3-6, 4-6.

Angelo Jones clinched the last quarterfinals berth in the boys U15 after prevailing in a three-way tie for second place in Pool C. Jones had a 1-2 record, the same mark Guam's David Okuhama and Palau's Jacob Spis Senior had. However, in the tiebreak, Jones logged a 24-28 set won-lost record, which bested Okuhama's 19-34 and Spis' 17-34. The Federated State of Micronesia's T.J. Rush topped Pool D with his 3-0 slate.

In the round-robin girls U15, Mikayla Lopez moved a win away from sweeping the preliminaries after notching two more wins in Day 2. Lopez beat teammate Alina Ishikawa, 6-0, 6-0, and Guam's Alyssa Bristol, 6-0, 6-2, for a 4-0 record. Lopez was set to face FSM's Shawn Adams yesterday and a win will ensure the CNMI netter a semis seat in Pool A.

In Pool B, Melody Johnson also kept her record clean after Day 2. She defeated teammate Jazmin Rayphand, 6-1, 6-1, and Guam's Camden Nadler, 7-5, 6-4, for a 4-0 mark. Johnson dueled FSM's Margaret Finnen yesterday and she must win to avoid a semis collision with Lopez.

In the girls U18, top seed Thea Minor went 3-0 after downing FSM's Amanda Hawkins, 6-1, 6-1, and sister Theecel, 6-1, 6-2, on Tuesday. Thea Minor leads the seven-player field and the top finisher in the age group will be determined once the round-robin competition is completed. Theecel holds an even 2-2 mark.

In the boys U12, four CNMI bets advanced to the quarterfinals.

Carl Dela Cruz , Colin Ramsey, and Moris Vllanueva ruled their respective pools to make it to the quarterfinals. Dela Cruz won two games in Day 2 to finish Pool A with a 3-0 slate. Also posting an unbeaten record was Ramsey, who defeated teammate Michael Jones and Guam's Edward Chung in Pool B. Villanueva reigned in Pool C, winning his third game over Guam's Mason Cadwell. Michael Ren had a 2-1 record in Pool D to join his teammates in the next round.

In the girls U12, defending champion Negahr Rastguiy kept her bid for back-to-back titles alive after improving to a 3-0 record.Rastguiy got her third win against teammate Tammy Ackerman on Tuesday to fall behind by only one victory against Palau's Ayana Rengiil (4-0). Ackerman holds 3-1 card as after losing to Rastguiy, she recovered with a 6-0, 6-1 win over FSM's Jennia Panuelo. Carol Lee also won in Day 2 against FSM's Sunshein Palik, 6-0, 6-0, to move up to a 2-1 mark.


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