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Sugiyama takes down Rengiil: Palauan standout ignited hopes of local crowd


Sugiyama takes down Rengiil: Palauan standout ignited hopes of local crowd

The last-standing Micronesian players were knocked out of the Calvo’s SelectCare ITF Junior Championships 2015 at the Rick Ninete Tennis Center yesterday.

Palau’s Ayana Rengiil, an unseeded player who beat No. 3 seed Maria Dominique Ong in the first round, lost to Ayu Sugiyama 7-6 (3), 6-0. Saipan’s Carol Lee lost to Yurie Takanishi 6-0, 6-1.

The tournament was a success for Rengiil, 15. She said it was the first time she’s beaten a seeded player in an ITF tournament and, because it was an 18-and-under event, her ranking will likely make a big leap.

Rengiil said everything was clicking for her on Monday against Ong.

“I was serving well, all my strokes were working out,” she said. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Nothing seemed to be working early on against Sugiyama. After taking the first game on serve Rengiil dropped the next three, struggling to adjust to the wind and strokes of her opponent.

Down 3-1, Rengiil knew she needed to bounce back and at love-all she did just that, unleashing the serve of her life, a low, bending shot to the T that bent away from Sugiyama.

The shot ignited the pro-Rengiil local crowd, which latched on to the Palauan as their final Micronesian hope in the event.

“All the islanders kind of stick to each other and support each other,” Rengiil said. “I felt the pressure but I also knew that we are the underdogs here so every step forward for me is good for all of us.”

Rengiil won the game to make it 3-2 and stayed on serve before gaining her first break down 5-4. Rengiil’s success ran out soon after. The tiebreaker and second set were all Sugiyama.

While her tournament on Guam is over she’ll remain on island until Saturday — weather permitting.

“I’ll just extend my stay and enjoy the fast Internet here,” she said.

Her tennis season is far from over. She has tournaments scheduled in Hawaii, Fiji and other Pacific locations for the rest of the summer.

• Rengiil’s mother, Ernestine Rengiil, accompanied her to Guam. Ernestine was a tennis star in her youth as well, winning the gold medal at the 2002 Micronesian Games in Pohnpei. She coached her daughter to the Micro Games gold last year.

• The Junior Championships continues with quarterfinal action in both singles and doubles today at the RNTC in Hagåtña.

[Original post at Guam PDN]

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