Baisa sustains PPS run; Divinagracia dominates

Brice Baisa (second from left) shares the PPS Bacolod leg spotlight with Hanna Divinagracia as Fr. Joji Ansula (left) and fellow NOTA (Negros Occidental Tennis Association) officer Nark Nicavera look on.

Brice Vincent Baisa kept crushing the opposition with his brand of play, posting another twinkill even as local ace Ma. Hannah Divinagracia lorded it over the girls’ field in the PPS-PEPP National tennis juniors championships at the Helvetia and Panaad courts in Bacolod last Sunday, Jan. 29.

Baisa, ranked No. 8 in 16-U play, trounced second seed Kurt Barrera, 5-3, 4-2, in the quarters, routed No. 5 Kirby Ramacho, 6-1, 6-0, then upended top seed Ariel Cabaral, 6-2, 7-6(2), to clinch the crown in the Group 2 tournament presented by Dunlop.

The rising Puerto Princesa, Palawan star then held off Cabaral, 7-5, 3-6, 10-4, in the 18-U semis, then repeated over Barrera, 6-2, 6-2, to match his two-title romps in the Iloilo and Roxas City stops of the country’s longest-talent search put up by Palawan Pawnshop president/CEO Bobby Castro.

The three PPS-PEPP tournaments also served as part of Baisa's tune-up for his first International Tennis Federation tournament – the ITF Junior Circuit in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Feb, 4-12. 

The top-ranked Divinagracia, on the other hand, stamped her class in 16-U division, foiling Jana Diaz, 6-2, 6-4, in the finals then as the No. 2 seed, rapped No. 1 Jufe-Ann Cocoy, 6-2, 6-3, in the 18-U title clash to share MVP honors with Baisa, who is expected to take the top spot in the boys’ top two age brackets when the new UTP (United Tennis Philippines) ranking is released next week.

Other winners in the tournament sponsored by Mayor Albee Benitez were Iloilo’s Francisco De Juan III, Clemente Barrera III from Tayasan, Negros Oriental, La Carlota’s Kathlyn Bugna, Ormoc’s Kenzo Brodeth and Queen Villa, also from La Carlota.

De Juan hacked out a tough 5-4(4), 4-5(5), 11-9 decision over Clemente Barrera to match his title feat in the 10-U class in Roxas City; Barrera got back at De Juan, 6-4, 6-2, in the 12-U finals; No. 2 Bugna toppled top seed Alexa Cruspero, 6-3, 6-4, in the girls’ 12-U championship; Brodeth repulsed Andrian Rodriguez, 2-6, 6-1, 10-8, to snare the boys’ 14-U trophy; and Villa blasted Cruspero, 6-1, 6-2, in the girls’ 14-U finals of the event backed by ProtekTODO, PalawanPay, the Unified Tennis Philippines and UTR (Universal Tennis Rating).

Meanwhile, the chase for top honors and ranking points shifts to Bais City, Negros Oriental on Feb. 2-7. For details, contact tournament organizer Bobby Mangunay at 0915-4046464.