Limpag: (Accidental) champions, interrupted

In 2020, I joined my first tennis tournament, which was interrupted due to the death of the organizer. A year later, I and my regular partner Kito Tampus got drafted into the Moalboal Parish Tennis Club (MPTC) as the 10th and last pair and we lost 17 of our first 18 matches, including a couple of 8-1 losses that would have been 8-0 if not for the kindness of a few Sunrisers.

In our last match, we finally got a win and I remember doing my own version of Rafa’s fist bump as we got the match point. Kito, who owns a beachfront property in Basdako, was more magnanimous and offered a mass, as promised. We were last in the 10-pair field and the top four, unfortunately, couldn’t continue playing as typhoon Odette forced us to end the tournament prematurely.

A month or so ago, while preparing for the MPTC Night Shift tournament, one of the regular Sunrisers got injured and Dado Delgado offered me his spot along with my cousin Estoy Donozo. First on our assignment was Kito now paired with Lany Ortega, whose intentional double faults a year before had them winning 8-1 instead of 8-0.

We won our first three matches, including an 8-6 win against Mayor Titing Cabaron and Ricardo Gador when we were up 7-1, before they stormed back to 7-6. After a tiebreak loss to Romeo Pableo and James Paran, up next for us were then-undefeated Babes Rendon and Felix Palca.

They were up 5-1 before fortunes changed and we managed to win via tiebreak. That turned out to be crucial as like in the two previous tournaments, this too was interrupted but not by death nor disaster; Christmas and its attending festivities forced a premature end and boy did we have silly grins on our faces when we learned the champions would be decided based on the standing and a tiebreak.

At 4-1 and thanks to the winner-over-the-other rule, Estoy and I are the champions and that’s a story my friend Cebu City Sports Commission Chairman John Pages, a former top age grouper who has followed my latest dalliance with tennis with bemusement, will surely enjoy the next time we meet.

As for the Night Shift tournament, Seth Rabuya and I finished with a 2-5 record and were out of the running. The top four were father-and-son Glen and Justine Taculoy, Aner Ortega and Fr. Gilbery Ytang, TJ Chiong and Richard Tabanao and Vivencio Delgado and Darius Redoble.

Curiously the No. 1 and No. 2 pair got defeated and in the final, the No. 4 were up 4-1 before a cramped-up Delgado struggled running. The match went to a tiebreak and Chiong and Tabanao ended up as champions and definitely not by accident.