By: Kristoffer Ed Bellen
MANILA--Fresh from establishing a successful season last year, the Unified Tennis Philippines (UTP) bares its plan to stage a year full of tournaments this 2019, featuring a total of 104 events in the light of its mission to produce world-class tennis players from the country and popularize the sport at all levels.
Led by its president and founder Jean Henri Lhuillier, the UTP is set to stage 70 Junior tennis tournaments, 14 Senior tennis tournaments, 7 Professional Open tournaments, 1 Trainers Open, and a dozen of UTP Tennis Challenge Series this year.
"Getting these Filipino athletes out there to compete with other world-class tennis players has been our lifelong dream. I'm glad that we have gained traction since we've rolled out UTP's programs two years ago and so we will continue to fulfill our mission to discover fresh talents and improve the quality of our tennis players from the professional level down to the grassroots level by providing them with proper training and international exposure," Lhuillier said.
Furthermore, UTP, which is sponsored by Cebuana Lhuillier, Palawan Pawnshop, Babolat, HEAD, Chris' Sports, Dunlop, Toby's Sports, Wilson, Decathlon, Mr. Freeze, and Madison Galleries, will also continue to form its junior tennis teams that will compete in various international competitions--an initiative that they started last year by forming several teams.
Recently, the UTP has already kicked off their season with the start of the Cebuana Lhuillier and Palawan Pawnshop Age-Group Tennis Tournaments at the Meralco Tennis Club in Pasig, as well as at the Actifit Sports Center in Valenzuela, respectively, which featured some of the best rising tennis players in the country including John David Velez, Stephan Lhuillier, Joewyn Pascua, Macey Carlos, Bliss Bayking, and Anna De Myer.
Carlos and Bayking were the two representatives sent by UTP to represent the Philippines at the WTA Future Stars during the WTA Finals in Singapore last year.
UTP will soon announce the cut-off period for selection of the 2019 UTP National Juniors Tennis through social media.
Last year, UTP formed several teams that played in Malaysia and Indonesia and were successful in producing winners in the ATF (Asian Tennis Federation) and ITF (International Tennis Federation) tournaments with the Eala siblings Alex and Miko reaching the finals.
New initiatives and programs are also underway including the introduction of an online tournament registration in the second quarter of the year and staging of more level-based tournaments for club players such as the UTP Tennis Challenge series.
Dunlop, the official ball partner of the 2019 Australian Open, will also provide the official ball of all Palawan Pawnshop and Cebuana Lhuillier tournaments.
Follow the writer on Twitter: @KristoffBellen