TAGUM CITY, Philippines - While the tennis grounds were quiet under the afternoon heat, constant thuds could be heard coming from the second court.
It was there where the champions of last year’s Palaro - Region IV-B smashers Alexa Santos and Khyshana Hitosis - and, Davao Eagles Shaira Rivera and Rachel Velez battled it out for gold in the secondary girls’ tennis doubles event, Friday, May 8 at the Davao del Norte Sports Complex.
With a best of 3 matches, Santos and Hitosis edged the Davao tandem 0-3, 1-3, 2-3, in the first game. Davraa had a slow start but kept up with their opponent in the clay court, scoring 3-3; a deuce, 3-4 and 3-5 by then end of the second game.
The attentive audience eyed Mimaropa as it was trying to defend its crown against their underdog opponent, unleashing powerful services with a chip and charge, 4-5.
“Maayo ang Mimaropa. Parati nalang yan sila Champion. Kaya kabado ang DAVRAA, tsaka baguhan yung isa (Velez)," said Amay Trumpeta, a former gold medalist of the tennis event herself way back 1981 who witnessed the match.
(MIMAROPA is skilled. They have been the perennial champion for years, that’s why the eagles seem to be nervous. Plus, it’s Velez’s first Palaro.)
The crowd cheered for the defending champions as they avoided breaks and errors, playing through the clay court perfectly.
However, Shaira Rivera of the Davao eagle tandem wouldn’t allow an easy win. Counterpunching volley attacks, she defends their baseline with a double bounce that led to Mimaropa’s loss, 4-6 followed by another winning smash-and-hit, 4-7.
The sun was going down but the two opposing teams are still up, keeping pace to haul gold. Trisha Velez of the Davao region continues to guard their alleys while receiving the backhand hits let out by Mimaropa pride Santos, 5-7.
And then, the match point came - where the deuces and love didn’t matter anymore. Just one more point, it’s either the Mimaropa or Davraa will emerge as the queens of tennis.
The eagles showed their claws- ready to take the defending champions’ crown but failed, by missing a hit, 5-8 landing with a silver finish.
Sweaty and sore from the tight game, second-placers Velez and Rivera shook hands with the winning pair, who defended their title as last year’s tennis doubles’ champion.
“They’re really aggressive and we had a lot of errors," said the Davao pair who will wait for another year to try to snatch the tennis gold.
The Palarong Pambansa is the largest grassroots sporting even in the Philippines that aims to develop the potentials of the youth to become responsible and globally competitive citizens. - Rappler.com
Annika Questo, an incoming 3rd year high school student, is the managing editor of The Mover, Tagum City National high school's publication.