Similar to many sports played in the country, tennis in the Philippines has come a long way, with its history dating back to the American colonial period. Since then, this sport has gradually become one of the most popular in the Philippines.
This article will delve deeper into everything about Filipino tennis, from its history to the Philippine tennis associations, famous Filipino players, and more!
History of Tennis in the Philippines
Tennis in the Philippines dates back to the American colonial period. It was one of the sports introduced by American teachers (Thomasites) as part of the education system.
Apart from being taught in schools, the presence of tennis in the Philippines was hyped up during that period by Dwight Davis, the first US Governor-General who had a special liking for tennis.
The Philippines participated in the Davis Cup for the first time in 1926, becoming the first Southeast Asian country to do so. But, that was after the then Philippine tennis team encountered some challenges.
Initially, the team was set to participate in the Davis Cup in 1921 but withdrew from the tournament. The team later decided not to compete in the Davis Cup 1922 and 1923 tennis tournaments. It then made its debut in the competition in 1926.
Philippine Tennis Association
The Philippine Tennis Association ( PhilTA) is the current governing association of tennis in the Philippines. For a long time, this association has worked to make this sport thrive in the Philippines.
Unfortunately, the association was given a two-year suspension by the International Tennis Federation in 2020 due to leadership problems within PhilTA. Among these issues was the controversial election of Antonio Cablitas as the association’s president, which the Philippine Olympic Committee opposed.
This suspension led the Philippine tennis team to miss out on the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group III in 2021. While this suspension negatively impacted tennis in the Philippines, the association is doing its best to have it lifted.
Best Filipino Tennis Players
The main highlight of tennis in the Philippines is the top-notch Filipino tennis players. They have not only been keeping the sport alive in this country but have also brought the Philippines into the international spotlight.
One of the greatest Filipino tennis players is Alexandra Maniego Eala, popularly known as Alex Eala. At just 17 years old, Alex has had some tremendous achievements in the world of tennis, winning major championships.
Her tennis career began in 2013 when she led in the 10-under category in the Truflex championship series, which took place in Cebu in April that year. Eala later completed her grand slam for the Little Mo international tournaments, becoming the girls’ 8-and-under category champion. This was her first grand slam title.
In 2015, Eala went ahead to win Dubrovnik Dud Bowl Championship’s 11 and under girls’ category. In 2017, she ranked #1 in the Asian Tennis Federation. She was then awarded the Doubles Player of the Year with Indonesia’s Priska Madelyn Nugroho by Tennis Europe.
In 2018, Alex defeated Czech Republic’s Linda Nosková in the Les Petits As-Le Mondial Lacoste finals, becoming the first-ever wild card champion. Impressed by her performance, the French Tennis Federation granted her a wild in qualifying for the 2018 Roland Garros Junior French Open. Tennis Europe also awarded her the 2018 Overseas Player of the Year title.
Alex’s list of achievements goes on and on. However, her greatest achievement, which also earned her a spot in the history of tennis in the Philippines, was her win in the recent US Open tennis competition.
Alexandra won the Junior Grand Slam singles in the finals of the US Open, which took place in New York in September this year. This win saw her becoming the first-ever Filipino tennis player to win a title in the US Open.
Other great Filipino tennis players in the history of tennis in the Philippines include Felicisimo Ampon, Francis Alcantara, Raymundo Deyro, Cecil Mamiit, and Manny Tolentino, to mention a few.
Understanding tennis rules won’t just help one play, but it can help individuals understand what is going on in a tennis tournament, enhancing their entire experience. Here are some general rules of tennis.
A ball must land within the set bounds for the game to continue. If players hit the ball outside of those bounds, they lose a point. However, if the ball bounces on the set boundary lines, it is okay.
It is not acceptable for players/teams to catch or carry the ball with the racquet.
Players cannot hit the ball twice.
Players must wait until the ball passes the net on their side before returning it.
If the ball happens to hit or touch a player during a game, it automatically becomes a penalty.
If a player doesn’t return a live ball before it bounces twice, they automatically lose a point.
If the racquet falls off a player’s hand during the game, they are automatically penalized.
If any player verbally abuses their opposing player (s) or any other person during the game, they will automatically be penalized.
A serve has to bounce first before the receiving player can return it
It is important to remember that these are just general rules of tennis. The rules of double matches are different from those of single tennis matches. However, the difference between the rules of these two matches isn’t that significant.
Double tennis match rules are typically different because they are meant to accommodate the additional player on either side of the tennis court.
Interesting Facts About Tennis
Similar to most sports, tennis has its fair share of fascinating facts that still surprise people today. Here are some interesting facts about tennis.
Tennis Is Believed to Have Originated In France
Tennis is believed to have originated in France and is based on an ancient game called “Jeu de paume” (game of the palm.) This game was highly similar to the tennis people play today. One of the differences between that game and modern-day tennis was that the players used hands instead of racquets.
The World’s Oldest Tennis Court Is Still Used to This Day
The Royal Tennis Court, the world’s oldest tennis court, is still in perfect condition and is in use today. Located in London, this tennis court was constructed between 1526 and 1529. It was King Henry VIII’s favorite court to play tennis. The tennis played on this court is quite different from the normal tennis people play today.
A Grand Slam Final Was Once Completed In 34 Minutes
Steffi Graf, one of the greatest tennis players of her time, finished a grand slam final in 34 minutes! Steffi took only 34 minutes to defeat her opponent Natasha Zvereva in the 1988 French Open Final.
A 13-Year-Old Player Once Competed In Wimbledon
In 1907, Austrian player Mita Klima made history as the first-ever 13-year-old tennis player to compete in the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
Yellow Tennis Balls Were First Used By Players In 1986
Yellow tennis balls were first introduced to the game of tennis in 1972 by Mike Davies. He introduced colored tennis balls since they were more visible on colored televisions than the former white balls.