JASON Saavedra and Jelza Maey Amores got the host city's campaign going with victories in tennis at the start of the Philippine Olympic Committee-Philippine Sports Commission Batang Pinoy 2012 Mindanao leg on Wednesday in Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte.
Saavedra pleased a rabid hometown crowd by defeating Steve Centennial Maghanoy of Zamboanga Sibugay, 8-3, to progress to the next round of the boys singles.
Amores took a bye in the first round before dumping Kyla Kiezl Diaz of Zamboanga City, 8-4, to reach the girls singles semifinals. The victory was sweet revenge for the home favorite after Diaz downed Amores' younger sister Jazzy Mae, 8-4, in the opening round.
Amores will next take on Diadem Sasota of Cotabato, an 8-3 winner over Franchette Faye Helar of Zamboanga Sibugay.
Also making the semis in girls’ singles was Alliah Elline Ragunton of Cotabato, who pulled off an upset over top seed Mary Rose Bael of Dapitan City, 8-1. Ragunton will face Davao del Norte's Rosuel Anne Binondo, who trounced Jed Vallie Rayne Aquino of Davao del Norte, 8-6.
Saavedra, a Grade Seven student, was part of the silver medal-winning doubles pair in last year's Palarong Pambansa held also in Zamboanga del Norte.
Badminton events also started on Wednesday, with Art Villanueva of Zamboanga Sibugay advancing to the second round with a 21-11, 21-17 victory over Dapitan City's Paul Tacbayan.
Action shifts to high gear on Thursday with the start of medal-rich swimming and field events in athletics.
Batang Pinoy project director Jay Alano said track events will no longer be held because the RMSU sports complex oval is unfit for use due to damages brought by bad weather.
Instead, she said the PSC will be giving each local government units a maximum number of six entries each for the national finals in Iloilo.
At stake on Thursday are the first gold medals of the meet in boys and girls shot put and long jump events.