Tennis finishes in top four

Thursday October 12, 2017 Written by Published in Other Sports
From left, Jesse Toa and Maka Maui with the Australian players they played in the fi nal on Tuesday in New Caledonia. 17101137 From left, Jesse Toa and Maka Maui with the Australian players they played in the fi nal on Tuesday in New Caledonia. 17101137

The Cook Islands 12 and under tennis side finished in the remarkable top four in the teams event at the Petits Requins du Pacifique tournament in Noumea, New Caledonia on Tuesday (CI time).

 

The boys’ team of Maka Maui and Jesse Toa finished runners up, while the girls team of Teakaiti Toa and Moana Une took fourth place.

The girls side lost to Japan in the semifinal before going down to a team made up of Kiribati and Tahiti players in the third place playoff.

Maui and Toa took on Australia in the boys’ final after beating Japan in the semifinals.

The match against Japan proved a tough battle, but the national side defied the odds to make it through to the final.

Toa got off to a brilliant start against Kenta Yamamoto, winning the first set 6-3.

He took an early lead in the second set 3-0 before Yamamoto fought back and leveled the match. The set ended in a 6-all and went into the decider – a super tiebreaker 10 point match.

Toa was down 5-8 and fought back to go up 9-8 and 10-9 but was unable to convert the point as Yamamoto capitalised and won the tiebreaker 11-9 for a third set decider.

It was all up to Maui to win his singles to level the tie and fight it out in the double with Toa.

The boys went on to win the doubles and the tie by beating the Japanese boys in a fine display of team work and determination to make it through to the final.

“Getting to the semifinals and then the final against Australia was something that I had never expected and prepared for but they did it,” said a proud coach Malcolm Kajer.

“Australia had beaten New Caledonia in the other semis and were to play our boys at 2pm (New Caledonia) in the blistering 29 degree dry heat.”

Toa again got off to a great start against Otto Jandera, a top 10-ranked junior player in Australia, but lost the opening set 6-7 in a close tussle.

“This was very frustrating for Jesse (Toa) and it took its toll on him as he lost the second set 1-6,” Kajer said.

“It was left to Maui to level the tie against the taller, number two-ranked Andre Filep, who powered his way to a 3-0 start but Maui made an out call which sent the Australian into a huge tantrum.”

Maui stuck to his game plan and had many opportunities to level the match with continuous game points, but again couldn’t convert them.

Filep went on to take the first set 6-2 despite every game going to deuce (when the scored is tied).

In the second set, nearly all the games went to deuce with Maui running hard to return the power ground strokes of Filep, causing the Australian to make more unforced errors.

“Maka had Andre and his coaches in a panic attack. For Maka, it was like sprinting three to eight metres on every point for the whole two sets,” Kajer said.

“At three games all, Maka had 12 advantage game points but the Australian kept on playing brilliant shots to get back to deuce again.”

Filep’s experience playing in a number of domestic and international tournaments came in handy when Maui took the match to the wire. He eventually managed to win the second set 6-3.

“Our girls’ team is ranked fourth and boys’ team are ranked second in Oceania which includes the whole Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan,” Kajer said.

“This is a proud moment for us.

“I thank our major sponsor Bluesky, Tennis Cook Islands, parents and all the supporters who have made this event possible for my team.”

The national players are now competing in the singles competition. The event will end on Saturday.

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