Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tennis star James Elliott flies the flag for Norfolk Island in Fiji

James Elliott has been battling it out this week (May 2010) in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) West Pacific Qualifying Event in Fiji, accompanied by coach Danny Nobbs. James was listed in Pool B of the Boy’s 18s with 5 other players (3 from Fiji, one from Papua New Guinea, one from Vanuatu). Following are Danny’s reports from Fiji:

On Day 1 James had a win and a loss: a win against Samuel Bagelo of PNG (6/1, 6/2) and a loss against Tony O’Connell from Fiji (2/6, 1/6). Danny reported at the end of Day 1 that James was doing well, that he was improving with every match, and that his loss that day was to the No.2 seed in his pool.

On Day 2, James was up against Raynal Singh of Fiji, then No.1 seed Gregory Jacobe of Vanuatu. The first match was really tough for James, with his opponent really coming out swinging, taking James by surprise and he never really recovered, going down in two sets although playing some really good points along the way. The score was 1/6, 2/6. In the second match James played well although being a bit down after being so flat in the first match. James really took it to this guy although this No.1 seed opponent typically plays competitions week-in, week-out, and the final score was 0/6, 1/6. James played some good points despite the final score.

Day 3 started with bright sunshine, and with James being second up only meant that things were going to get hotter and hotter. James only had the one match that day (against Shival Krishna of Fiji), which didn't start till about 9:30am, so he was faced with heat and the bright sun. James started really well and although he lost his serve early he broke back immediately and went on to win the first set 6/2. The second set started very evenly but the heat was starting to take its toll on James and he let the set slip away 2/6. The third set was even more tense, with both players going for as much as they could without making mistakes. James broke early then held serve only to be broken in a service game that seemed to go on for ever at his next go. Then his opponent had a service game much like James that seemed to take forever and with a few break points saved he had seen off all that James could muster in the heat and closed out the match 6/3. This was by far James’ best performance of the week so far, it was just disappointing that it was also the hottest day so far. The good news out of this day was that his doubles partner made the final of the singles draw and they were second seeds and scheduled to be the first doubles match next day.

Day 4 was a blast for James with a great win in his playoff match against Vanuatu’s No.2 player Gianni Calvo 6/2 6/0. He played this match on another court at a place called the Northern Club. The courts here are a bit older and not so bouncy, and James really showed how far he's come in the last few months and didn't let this guy into the match at all. James and Danny then headed back to the main centre where James had to play his doubles match after lunch. With his confidence sky high he played really well with his partner Luke Paeni from the Solomon Islands and their victory sees them move into the final on Friday.

James and Danny have been spending some time out in-between matches, walking around getting some “R & R” away from the courts, to get James fresh for the next day’s games. A trip to the movies was a great relief from the heat mid-week.

We wish James well for his final day’s games, and for James and Danny’s return to Norfolk via Auckland today.
(photo top Right - Danny Nobbs & James Elliott)

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