Filipino junior tennis players caught the eye of United States National Collegiate Athletic Association (U.S. NCAA) Division I coaches. The young athletes joined the DreamBig Gold Series Tennis Camp at Manila Polo Club in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines from January 11-12, 2020.
Ezequiel Gils of Rice University in Houston, Texas, USA, Rob Raines of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA and Jesse Frieder from Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA were more than pleasantly surprised by the Philippine tennis landscape. They watched the tennis players participate in the extremely intensive tennis training camp.
“Manila has the facilities and the weather, Gils said. “You can work on having good fitness. This country surely has the possibility of having a champion someday.”
The Division I Tennis coaches trained 20 Filipino junior tennis players. The young athletes were given the rare opportunity to undergo extensive, hands-on training and an insight on how U.S. colleges run their athletic programs.
“I’ve seen a lot of players who can play at a really high level if they just commit to spending time on the court and practicing,” Raines said. “I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on the Philippines in terms of tennis. It’s a place a lot of coaches are missing out on and it’s certainly a place that I’ll keep in mind as I’m recruiting.”
Gils, Raines and Frieder were impressed with the campers and their eagerness to learn. According to the coaches, almost all the players showed potential to play at the Division I level.
In particular, the coaches were impressed with several of the Philippines’ up-and-coming tennis sensations who participated in the camp. One of the participants was Sebastien Lhuillier, 16, son of 1992 Olympics taekwondo bronze medalist Bea Lucero Lhuillier, 47.
According to DreamBig Events founder and CEO Akshay Maliwal, the events company is bringing in more camps and tournaments for tennis, golf and soccer in 2020. He said they want to give local junior athletes the opportunity to be discovered by Division I US universities coaches who can help them reach their personal goals and the country’s dream to have Filipino players compete at the international stage.