SINGAPORE — Chezka Centeno learned to play billiards when she was five years old. Ten years later, she is a gold medal winner in the Southeast Asian Games.
She started playing at her father’s pool hall, standing on beer cases to take her shots.
“May bilyaran kami na negosyo ko,” said Centeno’s father Fausto. “Wala akong kasama magbantay. Siya ang kasama ko. Five years old pa lang siya.”
After only three years, she would enter her first tournament and take a place among the winners.
“Mga eight years old, may nagsabi na bilyarista na puwede si Chezka maglaro sa tournament. Nanalo naman. Hindi first, pero may place,” said Fausto.
“Doon na nagsimula ’yung suporta namin,” he added.
She would play from morning until the wee hours, and the hard work paid off.
At age 12, Centeno competed in the World Women’s 10-Ball Championship in Manila and made it to the main draw.
Centeno is turning 16 on June 30, in Shanghai while playing in the week-long China Open, and hopes to celebrate her birthday with another big victory.