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Fiji Time: 1:00 AM on Thursday 24 April

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Northern ace

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

PAULA Vuruna, of Holy Family Secondary School, captured the first-ever Labasa Waichata Junior Open tennis title after winning the singles final held at Waiqele Airport last week.

The week-long tournament, organised by the Waiqele Airport Tennis Association (WATA), targeted children between the ages 11 and 18 age bracket) in the Northern Division.

Paula (pictured right) defeated Mesake Yabaki of Waiqele Secondary School in straight sets 6-2/6-2 to win the Waichata Dish.

The win solidified Paula's position as the number one ranked junior tennis player in Labasa and Vanua Levu.

Paula, 13, was the top seed in the tournament which featured 24 players from around Labasa.

He walloped his way through the elimination rounds before thrashing his second ranked opponent in the final. "I knew he (Mesake) was going to be a very hard opponent. He beat me in the final of a WATA tournament earlier this year and I didn't want that to happen again," Paula said.

Mesake, 14, who came into the tournament with a 20-match winning streak including two victories over Paula was simply outclassed in the final. "Paula was very hungry. He hit the ball really hard and didn't allow me to play my game. He was unplayable. That's why he is the champion." Mesake said

Paula was awarded with a return trip for two to Suva with two nights accommodation at the Fijian Resort.

Even though Paula sees himself as a white collar worker in the future, the first former has not ruled out becoming a professional tennis player.

"It would be cool when you think about it. My favourite tennis player is Novak Djokovic," said Paula.

"I would love to play with the best in the world, travel places and stay in the nicest hotels."

WATA president Josefa Mainavolau was grateful to the many sponsors that contributed in the hosting of the tournament.

"We were overwhelmed by the support of the business houses in sponsoring this tournament," Mainavolau said. "This tournament was aimed at encouraging young kids to take up tennis."

and recognise that there are other sports apart from rugby and soccer that kids can excel in."

"We have been able to afford great prizes for the participants," Mainavolau said.

He hoped the tournament would expand next year with the inclusion of a girls category.