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Tennis prepares for international event

Friday 18 June 2010 | Published in Regional

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Cook Islands junior tennis players are polishing their skills ahead of next month’s International Tennis Federation Junior East Pacific Tournament the first major event to be played on the Nikao tennis centre courts since the Pacific Mini Games in September last year.

The international standard tennis court at Nikao was one of the main reasons that the Cook Islands won the bid to host the prestigious junior tournament.

The tournament will be held between July 5 and 9 for junior elite tennis players in the under 18, under 14 and under 12 age groups.

Players from American Samoa, Western Samoa and Tonga will play against a strong Cook Islands squad at the tournament.

For the majority of local players, especially those in the under 18 and under 14 age grade, the tournament is a familiar one as the Cooks have travelled to various Pacific Islands over the years to compete in the tournament.

This time local players will have the home ground advantage and a strong contingent of around 30 players is sure to bring out a large crowd of local supporters to the free event.

The tournament seconds as a qualifier for the Pacific Junior Open tournament scheduled for August in Fiji.

The winner and second place getter in both the male and female division across all age grades will qualify to take part in the junior opens in Fiji.

While local based players have been hard at work on the courts for the past year – a number of junior elite players currently studying in New Zealand are also set to return home to boost the ranks of the Cook Island squad.

Among the players set to return to play in the tournament is Ngana Nicholas arguably the top Cook Islands junior tennis player.

Nicholas is currently attending school in New Plymouth as is no stranger to tennis tours across the region.

At the end of 2009, the 13-year-old competed in three tournaments across New Zealand at the invite of the International Tennis Federation.

So the Cook Islands can expect to see a fantastic tennis tournament next month which will highlight the standard of tennis today thanks to the international standard tennis courts and tireless coaching by Malcolm Kajer.

Meanwhile, organisers of the event here on Rarotonga will be coming out to the community to seek support from families to billet the players from Samoa and Tonga while they are on the island for the tournament.