THE last time I dropped by a tennis court regularly, Sallymae Siso was just barreling her way through the 12-Under. That was over a decade ago. I didn’t hit a single ball, of course, as I’d drop by to get the latest scores of the latest tournaments.
The last time I played regularly? The Y2K bug was still a thing.
These past three weeks, I’ve been spending more time in the tennis court than I’ve had in the past decade, joining an informal tournament ran by residents in this tourist town. The camaraderie is great and the quality of players quite a mixture; from promising kids to veterans whose exchanges are more fun off the court.
To be honest, I didn’t expect this tourist town to have quite a tennis tradition. There are two courts, a clay court in the municipal plaza and a private hard court a few hundred meters away. I’m told there’s another clay court in an interior barangay. There are two running events here, one in the hard court and one in the clay court, which has the backing of local officials.
That reminds me of the many age group tournaments I’ve covered as a beat reporter. I don’t remember of hearing of an age group tournament in this southern part of Cebu Province. The nearest I’ve heard was the one held in Naga a few years back.
Though the IATF has allowed tennis, the major age group tournaments are still a long way off from coming back but I hope the guys behind the Palawan Pawnshop or Cebuana Lhuillier age group tournaments will consider holding one of their legs here.
I’ve seen a lot of promising youngsters here and the first thing I always asked them was whether they were able to join the age group events and the answer is almost always no. Having one of the age group youth events here will address that lack of opportunity, not only for the local residents but also for those who reside further south.
Who knows, there may be diamonds in the rough who will be discovered?
The guys pushing tennis here don’t dream of pro careers or international glory for the kids. They aim for that all important tennis scholarship and I hope the young kids I see playing here do get a chance to fight for one.
And one major chance of getting discovered is through an age group tournament.
I hope Jean Henri Lhuillier and the Unified Tennis Philippines will consider holding one here.