Mia Gemida brims with confidence as she sets out for a reprise of her two-title feat in Leyte last week, headlining the field in the PPS-PEPP Mayor R. Aquino national age-group tennis tournament, which gets going today (Friday) in Calbayog, Samar.
But the rising star from Ormoc City is in for a stiff challenge from the very same players she humbled in Baybay, including young Corazon Lambonao, whom she upended twice to reign in the 16- and 18-and-under classes of the Group 2 tournament presented by Dunlop at Calbayog Lawn Tennis Society courts.
Ashley McKenzie, meanwhile, firms up the cast in the girls’ top two age categories with sibling Kimberly McKenzie also going all out to foil Lambonao’s back-to-back title bid in the 14-U play of the event serving as part of Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala circuit.
This marks the first time that Calbayog is hosting a leg of the country’s premier and longest running age-grouper with Palawan Pawnshop president/CEO Bobby Castro recognizing host Mayor Ronaldo Aquino’s efforts to help develop the sport and keep Calbayog’s youth busy and away from the lure of vices.
Cedric Bravo, also from Ormoc, meanwhile, seeks redemption from a shock loss to Maasin’s Cymer Casem in the boys’ 18-U finals last week as he leads the cast that includes Nicolas Ocat, Glenn Mancol, Louie Chavez, Mark Baguio and Grant Regino among others.
Bravo and Ocat are also tipped to clash for the 16-U crown with the likes of Gerald Gemida and Daniel Pilapil to provide the challenge along with James Casera, Dwyne Balibalos, Breven Sarmiento and Mark Baguio.
Ocat is also entered in 14-U play that also drew Gerald Gemida, Jay Chavez and Pilapil while the chase for the 12-U titles in both sides is toss-up between Christian Laguna and Anton Dedace and Isabela Gonzaga and May Impas.
Also on tap is the 10-unisex and the boys’ and girls’ doubles in 10-unisex, 14-U and 18-U divisions.
Meanwhile, action shifts to Cotabato on Aug. 22-25. Listup is ongoing. For details, call PPS-PEPP Sports Program Development director Bobby Mangunay at 09154046464.