FIVE TAKE NMASA ANNUAL AWARDS
Tennis’s Carol Lee and swimming’s Kensuke Kimura were named 2013 NMASA/TSL Foundation Student Athletes of the Year, while cycling’s Russ Quinn and golf’s Leina Kim were selected 2013 NMASA Athletes of the Year, and volleyball’s Mili Saki was chosen Coach of the Year.
Lee and Kimura were awarded hand-crafted wooden trophies and a prize package from awards sponsor Tan Siu Lin Foundation. Kim and Quinn missed the awards presentation as they are both off-island but sent representatives to the event to receive their trophies. Leina’s mother Shirley, and Northern Mariana Islands Cycling Federation official John Jones accepted the awards on behalf of the two winners.
Kim won her first Female Athlete of the Year plum after an outstanding debut with the Colorado State University-Pueblo in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, a collegiate athletic conference that participates in NCAA Division II. The 21-year-old golfer bagged both the Rookie and Golfer of the Year awards in the RMAC and was the lone player in the division to reach the Regional Championships. She recorded several first place finishes last season and made record scores in team and individual categories.
During a break from her busy schedule in collegiate tournaments, Kim returned to Saipan to compete in the Tournament of Champions where she nailed her fourth straight Ladies Flight title and six overall. With her title defense in TOC, Kim was named NMASA Female Athlete of the Month in August.
Quinn took the December honors and eventually claimed the annual plum for his notable comeback in cycling. Quinn joined the 2013 Hell of the Marianas Century Cycle Race less than a year after undergoing a double hip replacement surgery. It was the second time he went under the knife, but he still found ways to recover and join competitive races.
Lee was healthy all-season long, making her a force to reckon with in both local and regional tournaments. She never dropped a single set in the 2013 North Pacific Regional Championships on Saipan, whipping Guam, Palau, and FSM players. She also had a perfect run in the pool play of the 2013 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji, en route to winning both the girls U12 singles and doubles titles (with Tania Tan).
With her outstanding showing last season, Lee got an invite to join the Junior ITF Touring Team that played in various tournaments in Australia early this year. The Garapan Elementary School student, who was NMASA’s awardee in August, is also being considered to undergo an elite program for youth players in the Land Down Under.
Kimura won the NMASA monthly top honors twice (January and April) and shared the annual award for students for his record-breaking swims in Australia and Guam and participation in the 15th FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
The Grace Christian Academy student represented the CNMI in the 6th Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney and set a new CNMI national record in the 200m backstroke. He also marked age group records in tournaments in Guam and had a personal best time in Barcelona.
Joining Kimura and the three other top athletes on the podium was Saiki, who steered Saipan International School to success in volleyball competitions both in the private and public school tournaments.
Northern Mariana Islands Volleyball Association vice president Gabriel White said during the nomination process that Saiki has built a volleyball farm at SIS, as she patiently and diligently teach and hone the student’s skills. With her hard work, SIS is consistently considered as one of the strong contenders in indoor volleyball competitions. Saiki is also into beach volleyball and an active participant to various tournaments.