A Cebuano in US tennis
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus () - April 13, 2012 - 12:00am

Pure and unadulterated Filpinos compared to their countrymen born out of mixed marriages are normally of the same build and color as your regular Juan, Pedro and Maria. Talent-wise, they are just about equal but considering the foreign bases of these mixed races, they tend to excel than their local counterparts because of the advances in their adoptive countries.

There are select individuals, notwithstanding the limitations and the Noynoying we have here at the moment, do make good in their chosen fields of interest. Since this is a sports column, we zero in on athletes.

Every town and city have their own local sports heroes, whether past, present or departed, and they have been sources of local pride with their achievements, both foreign and domestic. I’m from the land of masi and rosquillos and this northern town had given its share of athletes to the national team.

In the 70’s, Salvador Ramas, while playing for Cebu Central Colleges, now UC, made waves in the local commercial leagues. He represented the country in several international basketball tournaments and yes, played in the PBA for San Miguel. 

The 80’s saw the prominence of the Jao siblings – twins Marilou and Marichu and their younger brother Peter. They all represented the country in volleyball and basketball. Peter, with Jojo Lastimosa, were San Jose Recoletos’ power duo and both also did well in the PBA.

To the best of my knowledge, Liloan was quite in its contribution to the national sporting scene for two decades until a few years back when Jonrey Sasing made it to the national volleyball team. 

Our subject is still 14 years old, and is a nephew of Ramas. I did a column on this kid more than a year ago and I find him worthy of my column space for his achievements. Let me introduce again Gabriel Pilones.

They now reside in Florida, USA and Gabe started playing the game even if his tennis racket was taller than him. So, who cares? Persistence and diligence paid off that currently, he’s ranked by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) #9 in Florida and #31 in the US.

Gabe was advised by his coach to concentrate on playing in the boys’ 18 category since he’s dominating the opposition in his age group. He can very well match up with 18 year olds, and getting used to playing with the big boys adds up to the experience and maturity as a player.

Likewise playing with these guys gives him more confidence that by the time he turns 18, Gabe has a solid chance to qualify for the US Open Juniors. If that time will come and personal resources will be cooperative, I would gladly bring my wife to the Big Apple and watch him play.

Although he didn’t win, Gabe made good in last December’s first junior ITF tourney in Mexico, reaching the third round battling bigger internationals. Remember, both parents, Genevieve and Jerome are your regular Filipino originally manufactured and created in the Philippines.  Ergo, we are small compared to those hulking US and European species.

Gabe is presently entered in one of the biggest junior tournaments in the US, the National Spring Championship of the USTA Easter Bowl National Tournament at Rancho Mirage in California. This is a tourney for all the top ranked boys in the US and Gabe is seeded 15. This is a round of 128 draw and there is always what we call the luck of the draw.

It’s called the Easter Bowl so it started last Sunday, of course, and ends tomorrow. As of latest info, Gabe advanced to the round of 16 and here’s praying that he makes it all the way.

Athletes as young as Gabe always need support – financial or otherwise and its a blessing that Dad and Mom are all out. Genes also is a big factor. Aside from Uncle Dodie (Salvador) Ramas, his dad Jerome used to do ridiculous stunts on his BMX bike and has the scars to prove the almost psychotic stunts. Salig lang the mother was a dentist and we had two doctors as neighbours then.

Cecil Mamiit has seen better days and its about time to have another Filipino tennis hero. The sun is rising on Gabriel Pilones and there will always be storm clouds, not iCloud, before the zenith is reached but with supportive parents and relations, he could well be on the path to be the first Filipino to play on tennis’ biggest showcase, the Grand Slam. Go Gabe.!

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E-mail me at bobbytoohotty@lycos.com - THE FREEMAN

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