Nilo Ledama and Paula Uy wore down their respective rivals and came away with a pair of abbreviated victories in the premier division of the PPS-PEPP Mayor Rene Gustilo Cup UTP Top 8 Juniors tournament at Sacata Tennis Club in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental last week.
Ledama, the Zambo del Sur ace who swept Group B elims in the two-division side among eight of the country’s top players in the boys’ 18-and-under category, toppled Brent Cortes from Lanao del Norte, 6-3, 6-1, in the crossover semis then stopped Tangub, from Tukuran, also in ZDS, who succumbed to heat and yielded a 6-4 (ret.) result in the finals.
Uy, from Cabatuan, Isabela, also braced for a fierce title duel with the fancied Sydney Enriquez from Zambo del Norte but took the shorter route in claiming the girls’ 18-U plum with a 1-0 (ret.) victory.
Uy topped the Group B elims with three victories but struggled past Group A No. 2 Krystel Galanza, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9, in the semis while Enriquez also swept Group A then eased out Cebu City’s Pherl Coderos, 6-2, 6-2, in the Final Four.
Sharing the spotlight in the inaugural staging of the event which gathered the best players in nine age categories (boys and girls) from last year’s Unified Tennis Philippines ranking are La Carlota’s Alexa Milliam and John David Velez from Ozamiz (16-U); Manila’s Mica Emana (14-U); Nueva Ecija’s Jayden Ballado and John Prince Lim from Urdaneta (12-U); Dipolog’s Pete Bandala (10-unisex); and Gerald Gemida from Ormoc and Cebu’s Mitch Largo, who shared the boys’ 14-U crown.
Milliam turned back Althea Martirez, 6-2, 7-5, in the crossover semis before foiling Cebu’s Tiffany Nocos, 6-1, 6-4, in the finals. Nocos earlier shocked Group A topnotcher Justine Maneja, 6-1, 3-6, 12-10, to earn a crack at the crown in the event presented by San Carlos City and put up by Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala.
Velez, on the other hand, lived up to the hype, sweeping the Group B elims, thwarting Oroquieta’s Nash Agustines, 6-4, 6-3, in the semis before blasting Marc Jarata, 6-1, 6-1, for the crown.
Emana repulsed Marielle Jarata, 6-0, 1-6, 10-2, in the semis then held off Group A topnotcher Judy Anne Padilla, 6-4, 6-3; while Largo defeated Kendrick Bona, 6-3, 6-0, and Gemida overpowered Neo Maratas, 6-2, 6-3, in the semis and were declared co-champions.
Ballado outlasted Davelan Gauran, 3-6, 6-3, 10-5, in the semis then edged Shara Paliwag, 6-3, 7-6(5) in the finals while Lim foiled Aaron Tabura, 6-4, 6-3, in the semis then turned back brother Kriz Roque, 4-6, 6-0, 10-3, to snare the crown.
Bandala whipped Iloilo’s John Santiago, 4-2, 4-0, in the semis then stopped David Sepulveda, 4-2, 2-4, 4-0.
Meanwhile, listup is ongoing for the next five PPS-PEPP tournaments, including the Zambo del Norte stop on Feb. 20-24 in Sindangan with Liloy hosting the next leg on Feb. 27-March 2. The circuit moves to Zambo del Sur on March 5-9 for the Molave leg with Maranding serving as the next stage on March 12-16 before it goes to Lanao del Norte for the Lala Maranding leg on March 12-16. For details, call PPS-PEPP Sports Program Development director Bobby Mangunay at 0915-4046464.