Stephan Lhuillier: Like parents, like son
STEPHAN Lhuillier is destined to be in sports.
For how else can this 17 year old not get involved in sports when both of his parents, Bea Lucero Lhuillier and Jean Henri Lhuillier have made it a non-negotiable “requirement” to all their four kids, not just with Stephan, the eldest.
The mother is an accomplished athlete, who made good not just in one but in two sports—gymnastics and taekwondo.
She started off with gymnastics at an early age and was a fiercely competitive athlete, who won her share of medals in international competitions, highlighted by her two-gold, three-silver medal haul in the 1987 SEA Games in Jakarta.
After outgrowing the sport and her body craving for physical activity, she shifted to taekwondo. And in a short time, she went all the way to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where she and teammate Stephen Fernandez bagged bronze medals in taekwondo, which was then still a demonstration sport.
On the other hand, the father is an active sportsman, who plays tennis, basketball, softball and golf, not necessarily in that order. He has long been a sports patron, having been a many-time Philippine Davis Cup team manager and President of ASAPHIL. His Cebu Gems were an Metropolitan Basketball Association title contender in the early years of the league and he has also extended support to both the national men’s and women’s basketball teams.
The Lhuilliers firmly believe that sports would teach their children the proper values in life.
“That is why we made it a ‘no-choice’ thing for them. However, we leave it to them what kind of sports to go into and whether they want to be competitive or just recreational athletes, we will respect that. But we will give them the support they need, including getting the best trainors in whatever sport they choose,” said Bea.
The good thing is Stephan embraced sports with a passion and in fact has even gone beyond just playing, with tennis on top of the list, although he also skis, swims and plays golf, among others.
Two years ago, Stephan initiated the Pinoy Tennis Trainers Program, after he personally saw the plight of provincial tennis trainers when he was actively playing in age-group tennis tournaments.
“They were earning so little for the hours they spend and I thought if I could get them to improve on both their knowledge and skills, or even bring them up to the level of being coaches, it would help improve their lives, too. This was why I thought of the PTT and I got national coach Roland Kraut, the only Level 3 tennis coach here, to over see the program. From the feedback we have gotten from the graduates, they really appreciated what they have learned,” said Stephan.
In just two years, the program has already graduated 536 participants, including coaches. It has also been held on a nationwide basis, covering a total of 13 legs in Bohol, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Palawan, Bulacan, Oroquieta, Cavite, Olongapo, and Manila. Its side program “Adopt-A-Racket” resulted in 188 rackets being collected and distributed to participants during PTT sessions.
Trudy Amoranto, its best graduate in 2015, was sent a year ago to attend the ITF Level 1 coaching course. She expects to complete it by this year, while John Rey Moreno, a multi-awarded collegiate coach currently with St. Benilde and selected as the best graduate for 2017, will be going for his Level 2 status.
“We are looking at available Level 2 courses for him and we plan to send him if we find one. Also, if we can get other sponsors, we are looking at sending people to Australia for training. For 2018, even as we continue the program, we are also looking at sustaining the gains made to ensure a continuous development for our best graduates, “ added Stephan, who is contemplating playing in collegiate tennis in the United States after he graduates from senior high.