It was the end of year result that any sports organisation can dream of. This was a culmination of endless training, commitment, effort, passion, endurance and love for the game and the country they represent.
It was the driving force behind Tennis Samoa players frontline assault on the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Grand Slam Development Fund (GSDF) junior tours of Australia and New Zealand and a group of parents that took a private tour of young players to the Waikato Christmas and Auckland junior tennis tournaments.
It started in February 2018 when coach Larry Magalasin took on the Junior Elite tennis coaching program at a time when Tennis Samoa was struggling to secure a fully committed full time coach.
There was a fortunate turn of events for the better when Steffi Carruthers returned from her base in America to recuperate and refocus her attack on the professional tennis circuit.
This provided the environment for the players to train consistently and at a very high level. After three qualifying open tournaments, Leon Vainui Soonalole, Steffi Carruthers, Lyla Tapusoa, Kristen Pavitt, Crystal Christman and Maanaima Tausii qualified to represent Tennis Samoa and Samoa in the Vanuatu Mini Games.
In the team event, our ladies team led by Steffi secured bronze medal. As we only had two male participants for the mens’ team event, Leon and Kristen struggled to play singles and doubles to be competitive.
In the ladies doubles, Steffi and Lyla disposed of the number one seeded team from New Caledonia in a super tie breaker 6-2 0-6 10-8 to win the gold medal. Steffi again teamed up with Leon in the mix doubles and just missed out in the gold losing to the number one seeded New Caledonia team 6-1 7-6(2).
In the much anticipated ladies singles event, Steffi proved true to her number one seed entry by disposing of Geojimah Row from Solomon Islands 6-2 6-2 to bring home the gold. Given these results, our preparation to host the tennis tournament in the Pacific Games in 2019 is well on track.
At the same time as the Mini Games, Eleanor Schuster was selected in the Pacific Oceania ITF GSDF tour to the December Showdown Australia Junior Nationals Tennis Championships in Melbourne from 1 – 12 December 2017.
Eleanor lost in the first round of the main draw but came back to win the south east main draw consolation. In the 16U Girls New Zealand Junior Nationals in Auckland, New Zealand from 6 – 10 January 2018, Eleanor played and won the 13th overall placing after dropping out in the third round of the main draw. The 14U Girls NZ Nationals followed in Christchurch from 12 – 16 January 2018 where Eleanor was placed 10th overall. Eleanor is currently playing two ITF Grade 4 Junior Level tournaments in Wellington and Christchurch before returning to Samoa.
13 years old Penina Kamu was also selected to join the Pacific Oceania ITF GSDF tour 14U Girls competition in Albury, Melbourne, Australia from 2 – 13 January 2018 where she lost in the 3rd round of the main draw.
In the Waikato Christmas tournament, Penina and Rosie Tupuola were runners up in the 14U Girls doubles. Mahinarangi Tuala-Warren won the 12U Girls singles and the 12U Girls doubles with Rosie Tupuola.
Gloria Meredith and Rafael Tapusoa also attended the Waikato tournament in the 12U championships and notwithstanding their top level effort and results gained invaluable experience that will place them in good stead for international competition in 2018.
In the Tennis Auckland Christmas Junior 12U Girls, Mahinarangi again repeated her Waikato winning form by taking out the 12U singles Girls title while Rosie Tupuola played in the Counties Manukau Junior championships winning the 12U Girls Doubles with her Kiwi doubles partner.
Tennis Samoa acknowledges and appreciates the assistance from its sponsors whose contribution has given birth to these great results: SIFA, Eveni Carruthers, Siva Afi, SASNOC, Oceania Tennis Federation, the International Tennis Federations and our supportive parents. We pray for God’s continued blessing upon you all for your giving and support towards Tennis Samoa.
With these results, Samoa can count on the bright future for Tennis Samoa to continue bringing in the medals.