The Philippines had a successful campaign at the 13th Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) 14-Under Series after winning all 4 categories in the competition held at the Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association Centre in Kuching City, Malaysia on Sunday.
Davao City pride John David Velez captured the boys’ singles title over compatriot Rupert Ohrelle Tortal, 6-1, 5-7, 6-1.
Malaysian Lin En Tan, the tournament top seed, defeated fellow Malaysian Muhammad Zhahin Lelyas Kamarul Zaman, 6-2, 6-1, in the battle for third and fourth places.
In the play-off for fifth to eighth places, Brent Signmond Cortes won over Rainier Angeleo Selmar, 6-2, 6-0, to finish fifth, while Hong Kong’s Lai Ching Chung beat Malaysian Ryan Lai Eng Lim, 6-2, 6-4, to finish seventh.
In the girls’ singles finals, 13-year-old Alexa Joy Milliam of La Carlota, Negros Occidental, downed second seed Malaysian Lim Lim Zan Ning, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.
No. 3 Malaysian Sze Xuan Lim settled for third place after posting a 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 4 Thai Pimmada Lim.
The Philippines also ruled the boys’ doubles and girls’ doubles categories last Saturday.
Tortal, who hails from Surigao City, and Cortes, a native of Lanao del Norte, prevailed over Velez and Selmar, 6-4, 6-0, in the championship round.
Milliam, on the other hand, won the girls’ doubles title with Filipino-Singaporean Tamryn Brown. They beat the third-seeded Malaysian pair of Lim Lim Zan Ning and Brittany Jing Yu Michael Tiang, 6-2, 6-1, in the finals.
“I am happy with the overall performance of the kids. We won all events. They worked hard for this and got the reward,” said Roland Kraut, who served as coach of the team funded by the Unified Tennis Philippines (UTP), in an online interview on Sunday.
“Alexa had a tough test. She actually was up 6-3 ,5-5 serving at 40-15, but she wasn’t able to hold and lost the set. But she had a good start in the third set and never looked back,” said Kraut, who has been coaching the multi-titled De La Salle University tennis team for 20 years now.
“Johndy (Velez) was also up 6-1, 5-3, but Rupert was able to make a comeback and won five straight games. But in the third set, Johndy went up early and never looked back,” the 40-year-old Kraut added.
Kraut, a member of the Philippine Tennis Association (Philta) coaching staff from 2008 to 2017, has stressed the importance of international exposure to young athletes.
“I think this is the key for the Philippines to get back on track in tennis. We need to make the young kids play in international events,” said Kraut, who coached the national men’s team in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
“This ATF Under 14 event is really excellent because the kids get to play five matches, win or lose, which is excellent for this developmental stage,” said Kraut, who was also captain of the Philippine Davis Cup team from 2013 to 2016.
Velez, Milliam, Cortes, and Selmar are first-timers in the ATF Circuit. Velez and Milliam, both students of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, are trained by Macs Crankit Tennis Academy of Australia. (PNA)
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