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Young tennis stars earn medals

Saturday 20 April 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Sports, Tennis


Young tennis stars earn medals
Gold medallists Raetea Rongo and Te Kura Tamangaro with national coach Malcolm Kajer. FEDERATION TAHITIENNE DE TENNIS / 24041922

Tennis Cook Islands junior development team returned home this week with two gold and a bronze medal from the East Pacific Qualifiers held in Tahiti last weekend.

Raetea Rongo and Te Kura Tamangaro were the top performers after scooping the medals in the girls singles and doubles competition.

National tennis head coach Malcolm Kajer said Rongo went through her matches undefeated to win the gold medal in the girls 16 and under.

In the semi-final, Rongo played Tamangaro. Despite losing the match, Tamangaro went on to claim the bronze medal against a Samoan player. 

In the final, Rongo defeated her Samoan opponent to win the gold medal.

Rongo and Tamangaro then combined and won Cook Islands’ second gold medal in the girls 16 and under doubles event. 

The national team will now prepare for the Pacific Junior Tennis Championships, where they will meet with players from the West Pacific and the North Pacific.

Kajer said: “Things are looking good for both girls, and we’ve got 10 to 12 weeks to prepare for it.”

Rongo said she was thankful for the opportunity and thanked the coach for training her, her parents for their support and the community for supporting the team during their fundraiser.

“I am extremely happy with the results from Team Cook Islands this year; Kura qualified with a bronze, we won our doubles and I won singles.”

Rongo is now looking forward to the Pacific Oceania Junior Championships (POJC) to be held in Lautoka, Fiji, in July.

While the two players impressed Kajer with their performances, he said the other age groups in the 14-member team struggled to make their mark in the tournament.

“We struggled a bit. We were so close in the (Under) 12 boys and the 12 girls, which the 12 boys came in fourth placing and the 12 girls came in fifth placing. But they were all very close matches.”
But Kajer said it was a great experience for the boys 16 and under and the girls and boys 14 and under players. 

“I feel with another year of a bit of hard work we’re looking to do well next year. They will gain more experience.”
Kajer explained that in the 16 and under boys category, the Tahitian team comprised players from the third division in Tahiti and France.

“So skill level was much higher than us, as these kids (Tahitians) have been playing since the age of probably four years old.”

He added that skill wise, there needed to be more work on the 14 and 16-year-olds. 

Kajer acknowledged Tahiti for hosting the team, adding that the players gained a lot of good learning experience.