Leyte’s Sal Andrei Lago hacked out a pair of semifinal reversals and went on to bag the boys’ 14- and 16-and-under crowns which Mica Emana matched in her side of the battle in the PPS-PEPP Fr. Fernando Suarez national age-group 2019 at the Brent Tennis Center in Biñan, Laguna last weekend.
The fourth-ranked Lago, a MAC’s Crankit Foundation protégé, stunned top seed Thomas Bernardo, 7-6(5), 6-4, in the semis then held off unranked Marcus Guinoo, 6-2, 7-6(3), in the 14-U finals. The De La Salle U-Lipa team mainstay also ripped Bernardo, 6-1, 6-1, in the 16-U Final Four then foiled Lance Fernandez, 6-4, 6-4, to complete his romp in the Group I tournament of the country’s biggest age-grouper put up by Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala and presented by Dunlop.
The top-seeded Emana, 14, dominated her age category, dropping just seven games in four matches capped by a 6-1, 6-1 victory over No. 2 Ma. Sophia Moreno in the finals. As No. 2, the rising star from Sta. Mesa upended top seed Gaby Zoleta, 6-3, 6-4, to snare the 16-U diadem in the event held in honor of healing priest Fr. Suarez for the second straight year.
Reversals actually marked the event held side-by-side with the Open tournament with Elijah Guillermo from Taguig (boys’ 18-U), DLSU-Lipa’s Lorin Idjao (girls’ 18-U, Kean Enriquez from Imus, Cavite (boys’ 12-U) and Taguig’s Godwin Jumarang (10-U) upending a slew of fancied rivals on their way to victories.
“It continues to motivate us seeing new faces emerge week-in and week-out in the circuit. And we thank Fr. Suarez, a tennis buff himself, for helping provide the venue for these young talents to showcase their wares,” said Palawan Pawnshop president/CEO Bobby Castro.
The unseeded Guillermo blasted No. 4 Jester Ocio, 6-1, 6-4; Idjao, another unranked bet, surprised top seed Bliss Bayking, 7-6(0), 6-3, in the quarters, repulsed No. 4 Zoleta, 6-3, 0-6, 10-6, in the semis then shocked third seed Kaye Ann Emana, 6-3, 6-3; No. 4 Enriquez crushed top seed John Prince Lim, 6-1, 6-0, in the semis then ripped No. 2 Frank Dilao, 6-0, 6-1; and Jumarang capped the lesser-lights’ big run by winning the 10-unisex diadem with a walkover win over top seed Kris Roque Lim.