Featured, Sports

State of Tennis in the Philippines

2009 Australian Open: Day 13

We Filipinos have made the world aware of our talents and showcasing our abilities against all odds. Not only have we been known for our capabilities in overcoming adversity but we have also shown that yes, the Filipino really can. Perfect example of our success is in sports. There had been countless of rewards our athletes achieved and yet, the Filipino athletes still yearn for more. And as for the hoopla and popularity basketball, football, billiards, chess, and boxing have been accomplishing, one other sport, tennis, craves to be recognized and seeks much attention. Yes, our association with tennis maybe just as old as the other popular sports, but it is one sport where we need to focus and concentrate on for we can be as equally as good as the rest of the world. Let us dissect the interest and mindset of the common Juan de la Cruz and see where we have attained and where we have to move forward for the game’s development.

Have you ever heard of names like Felicisimo “Mighty Might” Ampon, Rod Rafael, Raymund Suarez, Manny Tolentino, Ronald San Andres, and Felix Barrientos to name a few of Philippine tennis’ yesteryears? Probably not. But if you talk of tennis legends around the world with names like Bjorn Borg, John Mc Enroe, Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastasse, Arthur Ashe, Ivan Lendl, Yannick Noah in the open era, then one or two might probably ring a bell. True, these foreign tennis greats may have carved a niche in the record books for the ages and some might even have inspired most of our current tennis players for they have spent countless of hours, days, weeks, months, and years honing and perfecting their God-given skills. They have worked hard and have reaped the rewards. They have served as role models to the next generations. But what about our own tennis players? Have they not toiled under the heat of the sun, used up a good number of time sharpening their backhand spins and preparing for matches and tournaments? Maybe yes. How come only a handful faithful few dare to research their names in the annals of tennis and check their humble beginnings?

Let’s now talk of the current crop of players lording over the majors in tennis. Roger Federer, Rafael, Nadal, Novak Djokovic to name some; plus greats like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, and  Michael Chang of the past decade or two. They are the heroes of many and considered stars in these days. But we likewise have our own version of heroes; we have Cecil Mamiit, Treat Huey, Patrick John Tierro, John Arcilla, and recent sensation Jeson Patrombon who are all climbing their way up the ladder of success. Our group of Filipino players is now in Division 1 of the Davis Cup and trying to show Asia and the world that we deserve to be called top Asian players once again after decades of hibernation.

With the success our Pinoy tennis are collecting, support from the private sector is slowly showing. Generous sportsmen are now sharing the proverbial lack of funding from our national sports associations. The powerful media now covering live games of our players competing internationally is obviously a good sign that awareness is fast creeping up the consciousness of individuals who seek information from this modern age of technology. And with close collaboration of the government and the private sector in making sure that just like the rocketing rise of football once again in the passion of Filipinos, tennis hopefully gets accepted and cultivated in the hearts of Filipinos as well.

WE, Filipinos, clamor for reform and change. That is always our battle cry all the time. If indeed change happens and every individual moves up a notch higher in the ladder of success and unity then maybe in the near future every Juan de la Cruz follows the tennis craze faithfully and gets fully interested either in playing or appreciating the sport. By overcoming such adversity, we may be able to produce future Nadals, Federers, Djokovics who can dominate the world of tennis and be known world wide.