Vanuatu’s tennis team goes into the Sol2023 Pacific Games with some local knowledge, thanks to their team manager Yanni Honila, who is a Solomon Islander.
Honila said his tennis journey had taken him full circle from Solomon Islands to Vanuatu and now returning home for these Games.
“I’m a Solomon Islander currently working in Vanuatu. I’m thrilled to be back in the country after spending five years working overseas. I am impressed to see the development taking place, especially with the new Games facilities. As a Solomon Islander I am proud, and with a tennis background I see that our new tennis court in Sport City meets international standards and can host events like the Sol2023 Pacific Games.
“As the manager for the Vanuatu tennis team, my role involves handling logistics, providing advice and support to the team. I also sit on the court with the rest of our team and officials during our matches.”
Vanuatu began their tennis campaign on Friday in the men’s teams event with a victory over Northern Mariana Islands. Vanuatu won the two men’s singles matches (Fintan Molbaleh defeating Moris Jose Dela Torre Villanueva and Zachary Sands defeating Colin Nyle Ramsey). However Northern Mariana Islands won the men’s doubles clash (Jean Pierre Andre and Roberto Wong defeating Nason Tenacite Wessel and June Yu). Tahiti will be Vanuatu’s next opponents in Group A of the men’s teams event.
Honila added: “Our men’s tennis team aims to secure gold medals in this year’s Games. In case of falling short, we target bronze, but our primary goal is gold. On the women’s side, we anticipate reaching the fourth or fifth position, but surpassing this would be even better to challenge our players for improved results.”
Honila called upon the Vanuatu community residing in Solomon Islands to come out in full support of his adopted tennis nation.
Tennis begins on Friday 17 November at Honiara’s National Tennis Centre and runs until Thursday 30 November.
By Tali Dever, Pacific Games News Service