Janus Ringia and Patricia Velez set out as the top picks but brace for a tough challenge from a slew of talented rivals in the premier division of the Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala Sultan Kudarat regional age-group tennis tournament which starts today at the Isulan Capitol Tennis Club.
Ringia, one of Koronadal City’s top junior players, is actually gunning for a twin-kill as he also leads the 32-player field in the boys’ 16-and-under division of the Group 2 tournament serving as the 25th leg of the country’s longest, biggest age-group circuit sponsored by Palawan Pawnshop with Slazenger as presentor.
Velez is also entered in the girls’ 16-U section although the Davao ace yields the top ranking to Carlyn Guarde with Danna Abad and Nicole Bautista taking the next two seedings in the event sanctioned by the Philippine Tennis Association headed by president and Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez and backed by Asiatraders Corp., exclusively distributor of Slazenger, the official ball.
“We expect a bumper crop of young Mindanao players to emerge from this two-week tournament,” said Palawan Pawnshop president and CEO Bobby Castro, referring to the next leg in Malaybalay, Bukidnon from June 30-July 4.
Guarde and Abad are also seeing action in the girls’ 18-U division along with Jazzelle Madis while Vince EJ Tugade, John Sonsona, Ramon Bentillo, AJ Alejandre and Lordrens Pacheco will be out to foil Ringia’s bid in the boys’ centerpiece category.
Tugade, Bentillo and Sonsona, along with Nicole Gorospe and Eric Comendador are also tipped to contend in the 16-U side of the event also serving as part of Gov. Pax Mangudadatu’s birthday celebrations spiced up by the staging of the Open men’s singles and doubles and various age-group divisions – from 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and mega veterans all doubles with cash prizes to be awarded by Gov. Mangudadatu.