John David Velez, Hans Cabellon, Mia Gemida and Nicole Villar brace for a grueling battle of power and tactics as they seek top honors in the PPS-PEPP Fr. F. Suarez Cup national age group tennis tournament which gets going today at the Villa Aurora Tennis Club in Cebu City.
Velez, who topped the Unified rankings in the 16-and-under division last year, now moves up to the premier 18-U side as top seed in the 32-player draw, confident but wary of his chances against a field that includes Cedrick Bravo, Venz Alforque and Vince Lominique.
Cabellon, on the other hand, topbills the 16-U category that features Mitch Largo, Gerald Gemida and Cesar Salimbangon, while Mia Gemida and Villar are tipped to slug it out for the podium finish in the 16- and 18-U sides in the girls’ division of the Group I tournament presented by Dunlop.
The four-day event, which drew over 200 entries, also serves as a prelude to the Open, to be headlined by Jeson Patrombon and Johnny Arcilla, and Legends competitions slated next week as part of the circuit’s continuing effort to boost the development of the sport and expand the base of its talent-search, especially in the countryside.
“Drawing another huge junior field continues to inspire us to hold more tournaments in the provinces and the presence of the country’s top players set in the Open only makes this event doubly interesting and worth watching,” said Palawan Pawnshop president/CEO Bobby Castro.
Gerald Gemida and Largo also lead the title chase in the 14-U side along with Gio Manito and Kevin Tabura with Therese Gauran, Riza Coderos, Amygray Olalo and Joanna Logrono expected to figure in the clash for the crown in the girls’ division of the tournament sanctioned by the Unified Tennis Philippines made up of PPS-PEPP, Cebuana Lhuillier, Wilson, Toby’s, Dunlop, Slazenger and B-Meg.
Other titles to be disputed are the 12-U in both divisions and the 10-unisex, according to PPS-PEPP Sports Program Development director Bobby Mangunay.