THE first PPS-PEPP Fr. Fernando Suarez Cup unwraps today (Saturday, Jan. 13) at the Colegio San Agustin in Bulacan with the Big City bets, led by Manuel Balce III and Rafaella Villanueva, slugging it out with a slew of top players from the host and other provinces for top honors in various divisions.
Balce, from Ateneo, banners the boys’ 18-and-under cast that includes Klyde Lagarde and Ramon Bentillo from Gen. Santos City, and Vince Tugade from Isulan, Sultan Kudarat while Villanueva, from De La Salle-Zobel, joins Laguna’s Denise Bernardo, Anna Demyer from San Fabian, Pangasinan and Quezon City’s Miles Vitaliano in the premier girls side of the Group 1 tournament organized and sanctioned by the Unified Tennis Philippines.
The week-long event, held in honor of healing priest and presented by Asiatraders Corp. with Slazenger and Dunlop as official balls, also serves as the kickoff of this year’s 50-leg Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala circuit and the first of three tournaments in Bulacan. Up next are the Open and the Inter-school championships.
“By supporting this tournament, I hope to help promote, develop and improve the quality of Philippine tennis, starting from the junior level to the pro ranks,” said Fr. Suarez, a tennis buff.
Palawan Pawnshop president/CEO Bobby Castro also praised Fr. Suarez’s all-out support to the sport, adding it further inspires them to put up more and more tournaments for the youth as well as members of the national pool and team.
This year’s PPS-PEPP calendar will feature 10 festival Open tournaments and 40 age-groupers spread in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. For details, call PPS-PEPP Sports Program Development director and organizer Bobby Mangunay at 0915-4046464.
Other players tipped to contend for various titles in the juniors are the Lim brothers from Urdaneta – Prince and Kriz – and Jeo Tampoco from Valenzuela in the 10-unisex; Las Piñas’ Sherwin Nuguit, Joshua Diva and Jose Ma. De Leon from QC in the boys’ 12-U, John David Velez from Davao, Agoo, La Union’s Marc Jarata and JT Bernardo from Laguna in the 14-U, Daniel Estanislao III from Malabon, Bulacan’s Miguel Vicencio, Exequiel Jucutan from Manaoag, Pangasinan in the 16-U.
Denise Bernardo, Lucena’s Gabrielle Zoleta and Miles Vitaliano are expected to dispute the girls’ 16-U crown while Julia Ignacio from Lucena and Cagayan de Oro’s Casey Padilla lead the girls’ 14-U cast while Alexie Jarata and Padilla loom as the players to beat in the 12-U category of the event backed by UTP, including PPS-PEPP, Cebuana Lhuillier, Wilson, Toby’s, Dunlop, Slazenger and B-Meg.