December 5th, 2017
Local player Rosalie Molbaleh andBrookieMaasi from Tonga had traded shots, games and sets for almost four hours before rain stopped play for the day on Monday.
The scoreline stood at one set a piece, 5-5 in the third and deciding set.
Tuesday dawned and both young women looked surprisingly fresh after what had been a late night celebrating the Opening Ceremony at Korman Stadium with fellow athletes, in front of thousands of supporters.
In overcast conditions, young Molbaleh showed early nerves as she lost the first game of the day – the 11th of the set – opening up an opportunity for Maasi to go in for the kill. But to the young ni-Van’s credit, she regained her focus with a strong game to return the scores to be level at 6-6 – time for another tie-break!
Trading shots with impressive power and variety, the early lead went to Molbaleh moving to a six points to two lead, until Maasi hit back and closed the gap.
Molbaleh however paused at the end of the court, breathed deeply and faced down her opponent at 6-5 to take the next point and close out the match, much to the excitement of the gathered supporters which included the Minister of Youth and Sports.
Min. RalphReganvanu was one of the keen supporters on the sidelines, with his ministry having taken on an ambassadorial role with Vanuatu Tennis for these Games.
Both young women have national rankings of #2 in their respective countries but this win was a sweet one for Rosalie Molbaleh who had gone down to BrookieMaasi in a regional tournament earlier in the year.
Story and photo by Jill Scanlon