Tonga wins first tennis gold at Samoa 2019 Pacific Games

Tonga has won their first tennis gold medal at Samoa 2019 XVI Pacific Games – in the men’s doubles.

The Tongan fans at Apia Park tennis courts was so vocal in their support that the referee had to remind them to quieten until after points were finished.

They erupted as the Tonga brothers Semisi and Matavano Fanguna won the final point, beating Northern Mariana Islands 6-4, 6-4.

Semisi Fanguna was completely overcome, leaving his beaming brother to comment.

“I’m so happy. Now I can breathe! All our hard work paid off.”

Later Semisi Fanguna said: “The rain break  worked for us. We came back refreshed. We talk tactics between each point and we talk loud to get into their head. They can’t understand us.”

When asked about their strong net game that dominated their play style today, he said: “We know we can’t win rallying from the back - they’re too good, so we took every opportunity to get to the net and close it.”

It certainly worked for them as they provided a master class in net play today.

“This win means everything to everyone in Tonga. We’re giving back for all the support we’ve had.”

Asked about plans for the future, the brothers simply said they need a rest. “We work full time jobs and have trained really hard in our own time!” 

NMI’s silver medal winners Robert Schorr and Colin Sinclair played a strong competitive match to make the final such a crowd pleaser.

Robert, 17 years old, said the silver was his biggest win. He said: “This silver is a big deal; it means NMI is a force in Pacific tennis.”

On playing with Colin Sherwood, a professional player, he said: “It was an awesome experience. I learnt so much from watching and playing with him to build my experience and step up from here.”

Robert’s hoping to get a tennis scholarship to a USA college next year.

In an emotional  bronze medal win, Samoan brothers Leon and Marvin So’onalole snatched the repeatedly rain interrupted win from New Caledonia 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, and super tie break 10-8.

Marvin So’onalole grabbed a Samoan flag, leaping and dancing around the court in joy. Leon collapsed in tears while the crowd lifted the roof with their cheers of jubilation.

Marvin said: “I’ve had the chance to get medals in two other events and missed out. I felt so down I didn’t want to play. I thank God. God is my…strength. The crowd pushed us on to this win.”

In the men's singles, Northern Mariana Islands won gold when Colin Sinclair beat Papua New Guinea's Matthew Stubbings 6-0, 6-1.

Sinclair started strongly and didn’t let up, keeping  his error rate exceptionally low.

Sinclair, an international circuit professional, exalted: “This is pretty awesome. I take home gold for NMI. I had to start strong. I know Matt. If he gets on a roll, he can be hard to beat.”

The best part of these games, Sinclair said, is “the joy of being part of a team event with everyone supporting you.”

Stubbings was not disappointed in his win. “I’m so stoked to win silver. Very proud to get a medal for PNG."

His highlight was “working my way out of the pool by beating Samoa".

The bronze medal went to 16-year-old Clement Mainguy of Vanuatu who beat Heimanarii Lai San of Tahiti, 6-2, 6-4.

He said: “I  really feel I deserve today. Last week I beat Tahiti’s number 1 and it’s boosted my confidence."

For his career, he said: “It’s a start. I’m now in the top 3 in the Pacific.”


Photo Karen Anaya/Pacific Games News. Caption: The Tongan brothers said the rain break worked for them.