Two male tennis players shaking hands

Vanuatu men triumph in tennis opener

TennisIMG 0035 | December 8, 2023
Tennis is one of the sports starting ahead of the Opening Ceremony at Sol2023. Photos: Pacific Games News Service

Vanuatu’s men’s tennis team enjoyed a promising start on the opening day of the men’s teams tennis event at Honiara’s National Tennis Centre on Friday.

The teams event sees players teaming up with others from their nation, participating in two singles matches and a doubles match against another nation.

In the radiant morning sun that bathed the newly inaugurated blue courts, a captivating battle unfolded in the Group A singles matches of the men’s teams event. First, Vanuatu’s 16-year-old Fintan Molbaleh stepped onto the court to face Northern Mariana Islands’ Moris Jose Dela Torre Villanueva, setting the stage for an intense clash.

Both players showcased their skills in a thrilling exchange of powerful serves and precise shots. The first set was a closely contested affair, with each player fighting tooth and nail for every point under the blazing sun. Molbaleh’s resilience shone through, and he managed to secure a 5-4 victory in the tiebreak, claiming the first set.

Molbaleh dominated the second set with finesse and determination as his focused play overwhelmed Villanueva, and Molbaleh emerged victorious with a commanding 4-1 win in the second set, securing victory in his first ever Pacific Games appearance. Molbaleh said: “It’s ‘Vanua Pawa’, we’re just playing with our hearts, and playing for our (national) colours is the best thing”.

The second singles match was between Vanuatu’s 18-year-old Zachary Sands and Northern Marianas’ Colin Nyle Ramsay. Sands exhibited remarkable control and strategic play, securing a 4-2, 4-1 victory.

Sands said: “The first games are always a bit nervous and a bit rusty, but it was really good to get the nerves off, get the rust off and just play my game and represent the country well and fight for every point and really stick by what we live by – Vanua Pawa, never give up”.

As the day progressed, attention turned to the men’s teams event doubles match featuring Vanuatu’s Jean Pierre Andre and Roberto Wong against their Northern Marianas opponents, Nason Tenacite Wessel and June Yu.

The atmosphere remained electric as the two teams clashed in a fierce contest. Northern Mariana Islands’ doubles pair exhibited exceptional teamwork and coordination, claiming the doubles clash in straight sets (4-0, 4-1).

However, with both Molbaleh and Sands clinching wins in the singles matches, Vanuatu defeated Northern Mariana Islands 2-1 overall in this men’s teams event group clash.

In Friday’s other men’s team event matches, Guam beat Tonga 3-0, Samoa defeated Solomon Islands 2-1, New Caledonia beat Tuvalu 3-0 and Cook Islands edged Nauru 2-1.

In the women’s teams event, Guam defeated Cook Islands 3-0, Tonga beat Nauru 3-0, Solomon Islands defeated Fiji 3-0 and Tahiti beat Vanuatu 3-0.

The men’s and women’s team events continue on Saturday.

By Lamantha Lano, Pacific Games News Service

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