Unified Tennis Philippines (UTP) has formed its first-ever national junior tennis team which will represent the country in several top tournaments sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF).
The UTP national junior tennis team is composed of 24 tennis players—top four boys and girls from the Under-14, Under-16 and Under-18 categories which were selected based on UTP’s national ranking system and over 125 UTP sanctioned tournaments all over the country.
The U14 players are John David Velez, Brent Sigmond Cortez, Rainier Angelo Selmar, Rupert Ohrelle Tortal, Macie Carlos, Alexa Joy Milliam, Casey Padilla, and Alexandra Eala who bagged the top spot in the prestigious Les Petit 14 and Under European Championships in France while the U16 players are Michael Francis Eala, Stephen Zion Guia, John David Velez, Laurenz Quitara, Rovie Baulete, Anna Laura De Myer, Pherl Bless Cordero, and Denise Bernardo.
Meanwhile, the U18 players are Manuel Balce III, Marc Nicole Suson, Arthur Craig Pantino who clinched an international doubles title in the Hong Kong ITF Juniors Tournament, Michael Francis Eala who made it to quarterfinal round at the China Junior in Chengdu, Bea Francesca Acena, Elizabeth Abarquez, Melanie Faye Dizon, and Mary Aubrey Calma.
Already, five players in the national junior tennis team—Stephen Guia, Marc Suson, Pherl Coderos, Anna De Myer, and Denis Bernardo—are competing in the 10th ITF Malacca International Junior Championship in Malaysia.
“I am very thankful to UTP for the chance to play in the ITF International Junior Championship in Malaysia. This is my first time to compete abroad and I am very excited,” shared Anna De Myer.
“I would like to congratulate all of you for being the first team to represent our organization in an international event. Not many people are given the chance to play abroad. You guys earned the right to go, so take advantage of that and seize the moment. This is your chance to excel,” said UTP president Jean Henri Lhuillier who is also president and CEO of Cebuana Lhuillier.
“We understand the importance of building a competent team to foster a shared national pride among us Filipinos. We believe that our participation in events such as this will fuel the passion and determination of the younger generation to be globally competitive not only in tennis but also in other sports,” said Bobby Castro, president and CEO of Palawan Pawnshop which supports the U14 boys’ and girls’ teams.
Palawan Pawnshop supports the U14 boys’ and girls’ teams while Cebuana Lhuillier supports the U16 boys’ and girls’ teams and the U18 girls’ team A group of UTP volunteers, on the other hand, is supporting the Under18 boys’ team. They are made up of former junior tennis players, tennis enthusiasts, successful tennis coaches based abroad and anonymous donors.