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Cramer & Baxter triumph in Marianas Cup

Paul Baxter(left) and Misaki Cramer flash the No. 1 sign after winning the 2014 Marianas Cup Beach Volleyball Festival title

Saipan, Northern Marianas Islands, February 24, 2014 - Saipan-raised Misaki Cramer and his partner, returning pro Paul Baxter, have won the men’s finals of 2014 Marianas Cup Beach Volleyball Festival, which took place this past weekend at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Sand Courts.

Cramer and Baxter bounced back from a tough first set loss 21-23, with a convincing 21-15 victory in the second set to foil Manny Guarin’s bid for a back-to-back championship title and Hitoshi Murakami hopes of winning a title in his debut event. 

“It was great and inspiring to play in front of people I knew while growing up on Saipan and playing on the beaches here. Their tremendous support really helped me in the finals,” said Cramer, who was mobbed by his father Jon and other Saipan supporters at the court after clinching the championship.

Cramer and Baxter secured the men’s crown after the latter blocked Murakami, one of the eight pros who joined the tournament. Earlier, Guam’s Guarin committed a pivotal service error, as his shot went wide over the backline, moving Cramer and Baxter within a point of topping the double-elimination competition.

After the crucial offensive lapse from Guarin, who won last year’s men’s division with Tri Bourne in Guam, Cramer and Baxter took some time before serving to briefly discuss their strategy for the next important play.

Cramer’s win has made him the youngest participant in the Marianas Cup to ever win the event.

The 16-year-old Cramer, who started playing volleyball on Saipan at the age of seven, admitted that with Baxter identifying the weak spot in their foes’ defense, he never felt nervous playing in the finals against a pro and a former champion.

“I knew that Baxter had my back. I just had to chase those balls and set him up well. We came here with a winning attitude and we kept that all throughout the tournament and our job was made easier by the overwhelming support that Saipan fans showered on us,” said Cramer.

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