Del Carmen plays injured in Guam’s 1st Fed Cup playoff win

Katie Lai and Charlayne Espinosa make it a clean sweep in New Zealand

PLAYOFF WIN: The Guam Women’s National Tennis Team’s Katie Lai, left, Nadine Del Carmen, center, and Charlayne Espinosa, won their Fed Cup by Paribas matches on Saturday in Wellington, New Zealand. Guam, in a playoff against Mongolia, secured fifth place with a 3-0 win. In the first playoff rubber, Lai defeated Shinejargal Battur, 6-2, 6-2. In the second singles match, Del Carmen defeated Jargal Altansarnai 0-6, 7-5, 6-2. In doubles, Lai and Espinosa defeated Bolor EnkhBayar and Battur in three sets. Photo courtesy of Team Guam

“This is a huge win for Guam.”

The Guam Women’s National Tennis Team made history last week by winning their first-ever Fed Cup match against Turkmenistan. On Saturday, in Wellington, New Zealand, with their first playoff win, they did it again.

“Beating Mongolia for the fifth spot is icing on the cake,” said Sam Lai, Guam’s team captain. “We came into our first-ever Fed Cup tournament just not wanting to finish last.

“It was an extra bonus to have the opportunity to finish fifth, and we did. It’s an awesome feeling.”

The tournament, presented by BNP Paribas, an eight-team round-robin format, is a Group II Asia/Oceania contest. The tournament was also Guam’s first time playing in the historic event.

Representing Team Guam, Katie Lai, Nadine Del Carmen and Charlayne Espinosa secured a 2-2 record.

Guam’s two losses, against powerhouses the Philippines and Thailand, were expected.

“We are extremely proud of our first-ever Fed Cup team’s results in Wellington this week,” said Torgun Smith, the president of the Guam National Tennis Federation. “This is the World Cup of women’s tennis, the top of our development pyramid.

“Guam will now have a world ranking that we can build on in the future. This team is an inspiration to all our younger girls working to develop their tennis.”

Katie Lai, setting the tone against Mongolia, defeated Shinejargal Battur, 6-2, 6-2.

“This is a huge win for Guam,” she said.

Before the second rubber, a singles match between Del Carmen and Jargal Altansarnai, the Guamanian wasn’t sure if she could compete.

“Nadine informed me right after this morning’s practice that her left knee hurt, and she didn’t think she could play,” Sam Lai said.

After a quick tape job, still in pain, Del Carmen began to play – badly. But, after losing the first set 6-0, adrenaline, the severity of the moment, and island pride kicked in. Winning the next two sets, 7-5, 6-2, Del Carmen’s gutsy play sealed the win.

“I told her just go in and play one game and see, but she hung in there for a 0-6 first set,” Sam Lai said. “By then, I guess her adrenaline and determination kicked in. … When Nadine went into the third set, she was on fire, and never looked back.”

In the third rubber, with the win already cemented, Katie Lai and Espinosa defeated Bolor EnkhBayar and Battur in three sets.

“Playing in New Zealand was such a treat, and representing Guam is always a pleasure,” Katie Lai said.

“I’m grateful for how many countries this sport has allowed me to visit. Guam’s tennis future is bright,” she said.

Source: Matt Weiss. “Lai, Del Carmen cement Guam’s first Fed Cup win” The Guam Daily Post, 10 February 2020,