Unified Tennis Philippines founder and president Jean Henri Lhuillier has high hopes for top-rank Filipino junior netters Alexa Joy Milliam and Justine Hannah Maneja as they compete against some of the best of the Under-14 (U14) and Under-16 (U16) players in the 6th Women’s Tennis Association Future Stars Finals at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center in Shenzhen, China from October 20 to 28.
“Our WTA Future Stars qualifier champions Alexa and Justine gave us a spectacular tournament last September and I have great hopes that these promising young talents have a good shot at capturing that elusive WTA crown against their counterparts from the Asia Pacific region,” said Lhuillier, a longtime tennis patron and president and CEO of Cebuana Lhuillier.Milliam and Maneja dominated the finals of the Cebuana Lhuillier Girls’ Tennis Challenge last September at the Makati Sports Club, which serves as the qualifying tournament of the WTA Futures Stars Finals, sanctioned by UTP.
Earlier this year, UTP rolled out its plans to stage a total of 104 tournaments including the Cebuana Lhuillier Girls’ Tennis Challenge as part of its mission to produce world-class Filipino tennis players and to popularize the sport at all levels in the country.
Top-seed Milliam will represent the country in the 14-under category. Last year, Bacolod native Milliam ruled the singles’ and doubles’ division of the 13th Asian Tennis Federation tournament in Sarawak, Malaysia.
In April, Milliam won the World Juniors Tennis Championships Asia-Oceania Final Qualifying tournament in Malaysia beating Japan ace junior tennis player Sakaya Ishii. The teen tennis sensation along with rising stars Alexandra Eala and Jenaila Prulla, is also part of the national team that earned the Philippines’ historic 5th place finish in the 2019 World Juniors Tennis Championships in Czech Republic last August.
Meanwhile, it will be the first international stint for the up-and-coming Arellano University junior Maneja, who will be representing the country under the 16-and-under category. The ace of Quezon City started making a name for herself four years ago, consistently as a finals contender year after year in various national age-group tennis tournaments.
The final rounds of the tournament will be held on October 27. This year, the program will feature 56 players in the Asia-Pacific region with participants from Canada, Great Britain, and the USA. As a bonus, this year’s winner of the U14 WTA Future Stars competition will earn direct entry into the Les Petits As tournament in Tarbes, France.