A longtime tennis patron believes the country can win its first-ever Grand Slam title within "our lifetime."
Or to be bolder about it, Tennis Academy of the Philippine Foundation (TABF) president Romeo Jalosjos sees it happening five years from now.
“Definitely a Grand Slam champion will happen in our lifetime. We’re hoping to achieve that within five years or earlier,” said Jalosjos, the former Zamboanga del Norte representative.
Jalosjos made the forecast during the awarding ceremonies of the Philippine National Games tennis competitions, where TABF players won four of the five gold medals at stake.
“With what was shown today (by our new breed of netters), we are on the right path to achieve what we wanted and that is international recognition,” said Jalosjos, a tennis fanatic.
“We will see that soon, we will join Asian international tennis contests in the next few months and we will continue exposing our players,” said the former solon.
TABF players who won gold medals in the PNG include Marc Reyes (men’s singles and doubles in tandem with PJ Tierro), and Maika Tanpoco (women’s doubles along with Marian Capadocia, and mixed doubles with Tierro).
Reyes, who beat national team member Elderberto Anasta for the singles gold, 7-5, 6-1, is born in Italy to Filipino parents, while Tanpoco is currently ranked 282 in the women’s under-18.
Another rising player out of the TABF stable is 14-year-old discovery AJ Lim, who is at 270th in the world junior rankings.
Tanpoco incidentally, also ruled the Singapore ITF Grade 5 championships last year, beating top bets from powerhouse countries like Japan, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Singapore.
“Maika continues to improve, while AJ being at 270 at his age of 14 years is a big achievement already. Ang daming mas may edad sa kanya ang nilagpasan niya,” he said of the two young lady netters.
Jalosjos has been impressed by the talent of these youngsters that he believes a Filipino making waves in any of the major tennis tournaments in the world – Australian Open, French Open, US Open, and the Wimbledon - is very possible.
“We’ll take it slowly but surely, we will have a world champion in the near future,” he added.
Jalosjos nearly made a major men’s contender out of Jeson Patrombon some years back after the native of Cagayan de Oro made it to as high as No. 9 in the world junior rankings in 2010.
Proof that he’s going all-out for his project, Jalosjos bared he has now doubled the budget of the tennis team to P7 million, which he hopes to expand with additional help from private sponsors and the Philippine Sports Commission.