Young tennis athletes from the Philippines have emerged victorious in the recent tournaments in New South Wales.
Mac’s CrankIt Foundation’s initiative to sponsor first-rate tennis players from the Philippines to train and compete in Australia is consistently paying off.
John David Velez, the young gun from Davao, is currently relishing the title of being Australia’s number one for 2004-born tennis players. He brought home gold trophies from the Nepean Under 16 (U16) Junior Tournament and Springwood U16 Bronze Junior Tournament (singles and doubles division) as well as from Bathurst U16 Junior Tournament (singles division).
Meanwhile, the 13-year old silent achiever from Leyte, Sal Andrei Lago, has bested his opponents, championing the Under 14 (U14) tournaments in Parramatta, Bathurst and Springwood.
To add to their winning streak, Nikhel Nowlakha from the city of Iloilo, came second-place with Sal Lago in the double’s division of the Parramatta Bronze Junior Tournament and Springwood Bronze Junior Tournament.
John Kendrick Bona, the 10-year old charmer from Palawan, also made a mark for himself, after winning this year’s NSW Age Group Gold - Under 10 (U10) division.
These champions are reaching milestones in Philippine tennis while receiving world-class training from the Mac’s CrankIt Tennis Academy of Australia.
Before they fly back to the Philippines mid-June, they have distinctly demonstrated they are unstoppable in showcasing their top-level performance in this sport.
The young champs
John David started playing tennis when he was six years old. It was his father who influenced him to play this sport. He remembered going with him to a tennis court in Davao where he would be at the audience watching the matches of club players. Later on, he tried it and since then, had never stopped.
This Davaoeño is determined to further strengthen his skills in tennis and have high hopes that through this sport, he would be able to get an education overseas to fulfill his dreams for his family.
For Nikhel, it was his mother who introduced him to tennis. This sport paved the way for him to be healthy and fit again after being overweight in his earlier years.
Similar to Johndy, this Ilonggo sees playing tennis as an opportunity for him to obtain scholarships that would help him achieve his ultimate dream of becoming a doctor someday.
Sal’s passion for tennis started with the encouragement of his friends. He would play tennis in school and participate in tournaments in the province of Leyte.
Sal has one ambition in mind and that is to become the first Filipino to bag the 'World Number One' title.
John Ken, on the other hand, unexpectedly landed in this sport in the midst of healing after he was diagnosed with speech delay and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
His father, Assistant Coach John Bona, shared that tennis became a daily pastime for his son and a part of his therapy. Later on at the age of eight, John Ken’s skills in this sport developed incredibly that coaches saw his potential to compete on the international level.
John Ken aspires of winning in the Wimbledon, Australian Open and US Open someday.
Harnessing Filipino talent
Inclusive in Mac’s CrankIt Foundation’s vision is to train coaches from the Philippines to have a professional career in tennis.
One of these coaches is Assistant Coach John Bona. Having been given the opportunity to visit Australia, he had witnessed and experienced first-hand the program of Mac’s CrankIt Tennis Academy, under Coach Pat Puzon.
This assistant coach who hailed from Palawan is all praises to Coach Pat’s world-class training program that leveled-up the performance of his team and got them nailing victories one after another.
His exposure to Australian tennis also enabled him to pinpoint several aspects that Philippine tennis lacks until today. One that stood out for him is the top-end equipment, facilities and tennis courts in Australia that many of the provinces in the Philippines are deprived of.
Coming to Australia helped him gain insight that playing in tennis courts of good surface types and using sound equipment would lead to injury prevention and preservation of the athletes’ longevity in this sport.
Above all, he achieved a deeper understanding through Coach Pat’s program that if discipline is put first, success is always possible.
John is expected to deliver to aspiring tennis players in the Philippines the knowledge and skills he learned in this experience.
Together with the Mac’s CrankIt Foundation, they would continue the mission to develop the talent of Filipino tennis athletes, with optimism that someday one of these young guns would be the first ‘World Number One’ for the Philippines.
Listen to the full interview