Sport: Guam buoyed by successful Fed Cup tennis debut
Guam's tennis community is celebrating an impressive debut in the Fed Cup women's competition.
The US Territory finished fifth of eight teams in the Asia/Oceania Group Two event, which wrapped up in Wellington at the weekend.
After losing their opening match against the Philippines, Guam created history by defeating Turkmenistan 3-0, with Katrina Lai and Nadine Del Carmen winning their respective singles rubbers before combining to take the doubles.
"After our first winning match with Turkmenistan, [in] our second match our singles player I can see the fire in her eyes in the beginning of the match because she wants to win too because our first match win gave us such a motivation," he said.
Guam were swept 3-0 by Thailand in their final pool match but finished the week on Saturday with another impressive 3-0 victory over Mongolia in the playoff for fifth place.
Katrina Lai dispatched past Shinejargal Battur 6-2 6-2 in the opening singles rubber before Nadine Del Carmen came from a set down to defeat Jargal Altansarnai 0-6 7-5 6-2.
Lai then partnered with Charlayne Espinosa to complete the sweep with a dramatic 6-1 6-7 10-4 triumph in the doubles. The super tie-breaker ensuring all three team members finished the week on a winning note.
Guam team captain Samuel Lai said they went into the event wanting to avoid last place but performed much better than expected.
"We didn't want to be the last so we fought and luckily due to our girls' hard work we finished number three in our group," he said.
"That gave us the opportunity of being in the play-off and have a chance to be even number five [overall], which we did."
"As the days go by we build up more confidence and knowing that the Mongolia team beat Singapore and had one match win against Pakistan so we knew it wasn't going to be an easy match but I guess our momentum, our belief was so strong that we overcame [the odds] and won today."
All three Guam representatives are currently based in the United States and Lai is confident they will continue to develop over the next 12 months and return even better prepared next year.
"Expect Nadine, who's still playing the college system right now, Katrina Lai was actually out of tennis for a year and she only picked up the racquet about three months ago and started hitting again," he said.
"Also, Charlayne didn't get much college experience at all but both Katrina and Charlayne will go back and will even train harder and earlier than this year. Nadine's going to be a senior, last year in her college tennis, so we would expect Nadine will be a stronger player next year."
Sam Lai said Guam a fourth player pulled out of this year's tournament at the last minute but hopefully their success will motivate her and potentially other players to want to be involved going forward.
Hosts New Zealand won promotion to Asia/Oceania Group One after beating the Philippines 2-1 in the final.
Meanwhile, Pacific Oceania will compete in the second Asia/Oceania Group Two event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in June.