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Newly-formed UTP juniors’ team shows potential in Malacca

(From left) Team coach Karl Sta. Maria; UTP co-founder Randy Villanueva; UTP general manager Jackie Tomacruz; team coach Jun Tabura; national junior tennis team members Stephen Guia, Pherl Coderos, Denis Bernardo, Anna De Myer and Marc Suson; UTP president Jean Henri Lhuillier; UTP co-founder Gerard Maronilla; and team coach Roland Kraut.

By Kristoffer Ed Bellen

MANILA—Unified Tennis Philippines’ maiden national juniors’ tennis team showed remarkable prospect following their first ever official tournament after tallying decent finishes as the action continues at the 10th ITF Malacca International Junior Championship 2018 at MITC Tennis Complex Ayer Keroh Melaka, Malaysia, Friday.

Juvenile tennis players from the main UTP juniors’ team roster Stephen Guia, Marc Suson, Pherl Coderos, Anna De Myer, and Denis Bernardo led a cast of several Filipino racketeers in the six-day affair to represent the country in the events sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) in which four of them reached at least the second round.

Qualifier Melanie Faye Dizon and Bea Francesca Acena pulled off separate dominant round one wins only to yield an early exit at the second round while Guia and Suson, the country’s only two official entries at the boys’ division, both managed to set foot in round two to cap off a what could have been promising future for Philippine tennis in the years to come.

Guia, a top junior asset, was the only Filipino to ever make it into two separate second rounds in the tournament after dominating countryman Suson as a lucky loser, 6-2, 6-3, before also teaming up with Suson in the doubles category and tally a three-setter win over Malaysian wildcards Soon Keat Chan and Muhammad Nur Iman Mood Noor Ariffin, 6-4, 4-6, 10-3.

“Sobrang saya at nagpapasalamat ako kay Sir Jean [Lhuillier] na sinusuportahan niya kami at nagpapasalamat din ako sa UTP,” Guia, one of the UTP’s U-16 team members, told Dugout Philippines.

Last week, the UTP announced the country’s first ever pool of national team members at the juniors division which included the aforementioned players as they continue to establish a support system apart from their own grass-root age-group tennis tournaments in the light of developing the sport in the country.

The selection of the national junior tennis team was made through a mixture of a total of 24 top-ranked Under-14, Under-16, and Under-18 players from the boys and girls division that was base primarily from UTP’s distinct national ranking system from over 125 UTP-sanctioned tournaments all over the country.

The U-14 players are John David Velez, Brent Sigmond Cortez, Rainier Angelo Selmar, Rupert Ohrelle Tortal, Macie Carlos, Alexa Joy Milliam, Casey Padilla, and Alexandra Eala who bagged the top spot in the prestigious Les Petit 14 and Under European Championships in France, while the U16 players are Michael Francis Eala, Stephen Zion Guia, John David Velez, Laurenz Quitara, Rovie Baulete, Anna Laura De Myer, Pherl Bless Cordero, and Denise Bernardo.

Meanwhile, the U-18 players are Manuel Balce III, Marc Nicole Suson, Arthur Craig Pantino who clinched an international doubles title in the Hong Kong ITF Juniors Tournament, Michael Francis Eala who made it to quarterfinal round at the China Junior in Chengdu, Bea Francesca Acena, Elizabeth Abarquez, Melanie Faye Dizon, and Mary Aubrey Calma.

“We understand the importance of building a competent team to foster a shared national pride among us Filipinos,” Palawan Pawnshop CEO and Philippine tennis enthusiast Bobby Castro said.

“We believe that our participation in events such as this will fuel the passion and determination of the younger generation to be globally competitive not only in tennis but also in other sports,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @theballkidPH