Monday, June 25, 2007

Tennis Tournament at Brunei Shell

Yesterday, I was looking for some document of the early meetings of the MaSci Foundation when I chanced upon old pictures and clippings from Salam, the official publication of Brunei Shell. Below, in one of the tournaments, I partnered with Mando and finished runner up.

Tennis games in Brunei started immediately after office at 4PM and ended at about 9PM, if it didn't rain. We usually played at Brunei Shell Recreation Club at the back of the head office in Seria. Sometimes, I also played at the Panaga Club, about 5 blocks aways from the HQ. By the way, tennis was a seven day a week sports activity!

My first tennis instructor was Jess Belamide, a Cebuano working at SES department. Oh, we played till 11PM even if was drizzling. He was so patient to teach tennis though it was not really the scientific way of hitting forehand and backhand. He sliced the ball most of the time.

As soon as I picked-up the game, we joined tournaments in both clubs. Jess was not really keen to join the tournaments, that I partnered with a very good friend , Mike Basubas (now the president of furniture manufacturers' association in Cebu) and later on with Mando Oteyza as shown in the photo.

Playing at Makati Sports Club last week, upon the invitation of Rotarians Mong, Bert and Andy reminded me of the hard court surfaces in Brunei. Tennis is the same everywhere - warm people, happy heart, lots of water, raucous laughter, missed shots, could-not-forget winners and disappointed loser.

Tennis is best for you than badminton - call me at 0918 844 7024.

Love 40!

Tennis Then and Now

On the playground of the MaSci (Manila Science High School) is where I had the first glimpse of tennis right on the courts of Philippine Columbian.

Thirty-nine years ago, I wouldn't miss tennis at MaSci. The usual 7AM flag ceremony is conducted on the playground beside the tennis courts. So as we were singing the national anthem, the tennis match was suspended as players at the other side of the fence stood still to finish the anthem. Never did I dream that I would be involved in the sports of tennis.

Four years later, our IV-Einstein senior class homeroom was located at the second floor of the Bordner Building. That time I had a vantage view of the tennis courts. After my bag is settled on my designated seat, the window on the northern part of the room was the usual hangout to watch tennis. Players were all in white attire and used wooden rackets. Sometimes a ball or two flew over the fence to the grassy patch of the playground. Those became marked balls and were used for softball games if the sports equipment room was locked.

Volleyball and pingpong were the popular sports in MaSci. Occasionally there were softball and basketball. Rizal Memorial Stadium, a jeepney ride away from the school not tennis was a usual hang-out to watch softball games, not tennis.

In May 1971, MaSci was slowly fading away after graduation so was tennis.

Then I bought Shine, my first tennis racket at a Raon sports shop. Head, Wilson and other brands were quite expensive. During Saturdays, An office mate, Ed Mateo and myself had our Tennis 101 drills at the rooftop of EEI building at E. Rodriguez Ave now C5. In 1979, I finally landed on a tennis court at Rizal Racket Club in Pasig using a red Head racket. Occupying the 12 to 1pm slot, we literally owned the courts.

Serious tennis started in Brunei in August 1981, my first month in Brunei Shell Petroleum. Oh, I had the luxury to play in two clubs, BSRC (Brunei Shell Recreation Club) and Panaga Club. My gear consisted of a Spalding racket and Puma rubber shoes. Game schedules were 5PM to 9pm almost everyday including weekends. With the absence of a professional trainor, our ground strokes, volleys and serves were not polished. But game after game of tennis made my stay in Brunei most enjoyable.

Going back to the Philippines, Meralco Tennis Club, became my home court. Jimmy Ledesma, a class A player with excellent ground strokes, was my first professional trainor. Since 1994 I have been playing tennis with Jimmy. And tennis I did learn.

Since 2003, Onay Cruz has been my trainor. A faulty forehand and weak backhand were corrected and improved. Now, I enjoyed every stroke and every game of tennis.

Playing tennis was not about a mighty forehand nor a powerful serve. The game is built around the players's ability to focus, patience to practice, quick mind to make decisions and anticipation to hit the ball early.

Tennis being a great sport, built my resilience to deal with very demanding and stressful business environment.

Here's a challenge, play tennis and learn to focus. Enjoy!

Friday, May 18, 2007