Multi-titled John David Velez tries to buck the odds as he shoots for a three-division romp in the PPS-PEPP Manila Polo Club National age-group tennis tournament which got under way yesterday (Friday) at the MPC outdoor courts at the posh Forbes Park in Makati City.
Though the 14-year-old rising star from Davao settled for the No. 2 ranking in his age group bannered by Marc Jarata, Velez gained the top seeding in the 16- and 18-and-under divisions of the Group 2 tournament presented by Dunlop and sponsored by Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Pera Padala.
As in the 14-U class, Velez also braces for a showdown with Jarata in the 16-U section that also features Jester Ocio, Edgardo Angara, Stefano Gurria, Daniel Estanislao III, Thomas Bernardo and Lorenzo Enriquez.
He also expects to have his hands full in the premier category of the tournament, backed by Asiatraders Corp., that also includes No. 2 Loucas Fernandez, EJ Tugade and Jolo Basa.
“Velez has gained so much confidence from his string of victories halfway through the season, so we expect him to measure up with the older, seasoned rivals in the higher divisions this week,” said Palawan Pawnshop president/CEO Bobby Castro.
An equally thrilling battle is seen in the girl’s side of the event, sanctioned by the Unified Tennis Philippines, made up of PPS-PEPP, Cebuana Lhuillier, Wilson, Toby’s, Dunlop, Slazenger and B-Meg, with Bea Acena, Anna De Myer, Bliss Bayking, Denise Bernardo, Renee Acena, Paula Uy, Danna Abad and Carlyn Guarde bannering the stellar 18-U cast.
Bayking, De Myer, Uy and Renee Acena are also out to clash for the 16-U plum along with Justine Maneja, Gaby Zoleta, Kryshana Brazal and Julia Ignacio while Marielle Jarata, Melody Dizon, Mica Emana, Jiana Hernandez, Sandra Apostol and Steffani Pesengco join Ignacio and Maneja in the 14-U group.
Marielle Jarata, Emana, Ma. Sophia Moreno and Beatrice Panganiban are also tipped to dispute the girls’ 12-U tiara while siblings Prince and Roque Lim banner the cast in the 10-unisex and boys’ 12-U divisions.