Overage athlete is Batang Pinoy’s youngest tennis official
DUMAGUETE CITY—Ibarra Ortega Jr., is the brightest tennis talent this city has produced in recent years. But he can no longer compete in the Batang Pinoy Visayas qualifying as he already turned 16—the tournament is for athletes 15 and under.
“But I can’t just sit here and watch the matches sir,” Ortega told this reporter in Filipino. “So I decided to become one of the technical officials.”
He stuck out like a sore thumb during the technical meeting Friday morning, huddling with middle-aged men and women under a tree in the Praxevilla Tennis Club where he started playing the game.
“My favorite place was that wall,” said Ortega, pointing at a corner by the only concrete court of the Club. “I come here at 12 noon because at 2 p.m. all the club players would occupy all the courts.”
When he was just starting, nobody wanted to play with him “because I’m just a beginner,” according to Ortega. But he became good at it, “nobody wanted to play with me also because they said I was too good.”
Ortega took a bronze medal in the 2017 Southeast Asian School Competitions along with Zamboanga’s Jose Pague. He has also won age-group titles at Cebuana Lhuillier and Palawan Express competitions and was runner up to Pague in the National Finals of the previous BP.
A Palarong Pambansa silver medalist, the 12th grader at Piapi High School will also compete in an age-group championships in Thailand in December.
“I want to be an engineer,” said Ortega. “But in tennis, I want to play for the national team. The problem is I don’t have a coach, a trainer and sponsor. I can’t compete in Manila and other places because I don’t have somebody to finance me.”
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