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Business rivals Castro, Lhuillier team up for UTP formation

Cebuana Lhuillier head honcho Jean Henri Lhuillier, third from right, and Palawan Pawnshop boss Bobby Castro, second from right, are among the brains behind the founding of the UTP. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

MAKATI--Cebuana Lhuillier and Palawan Pawnshop are two of the biggest pawning companies in the Philippines.

In fact, many see the said companies as rivals that they think their respective owners, Jean Henri Lhuillier and Bobby Castro, will never collaborate.

However, their love for tennis brought them together for one project, the Unified Tennis Philippines.

"Sports has no boundaries in many ways," Lhuillier, a former tennis player, told Dugout Philippines during the official launch of the said organization at the Makati Sports Club on Thursday night. "We've been supporting tennis for a number of years, and I feel that we're all looking at one vision."

"In business, we are competitors, but I think the love for tennis is our passion," Castro, who has been organizing the Palawan Pawnshop age group tennis tournament series for years now, told Dugout Philippines in a separate interview.

So what is UTP then?

"It's about unifying all the tennis enthusiasts, the volunteers, and the tennis stakeholders. It's an association where we want to develop tennis in the Philippines," answered Castro.

"We want to bring the tennis quality up in the Philippines and uplift the youth in terms of in getting them to have opportunities to go to college and tennis is that route," continued Lhuillier.

On what the UTP plans to do for the rest of the year and the following annum as well, Castro said, "We'll continue to sponsor age-group tennis tournaments. That's our goal: to reach out to more regions."

Lhuillier added, "In terms of international tournaments, we're sending players to three international tournaments for the juniors. That will happen in 2018."

However, Lhuillier said that the UTP is setting its sights on becoming the new NSA for tennis.

"We would like to be accredited by the POC. We have been accredited by the PSC already," he said in particular. "We wanna make sure that we show what's best for the country, both from an administrative end and also from the quality of players, and it all boils down to making sure that those stakeholders have that same vision to create world-class tennis players.

On the other hand, while Castro is optimistic that a Filipino will become part of global tournaments like the Grand Slam events, he said, "[Bringing Filipinos to the world stage] is a big effort."

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