Twenty four months ago, I wrote this piece about Randy and Christine del Valle….
HIS FIRST forehand swing was in 3rd year high school. In college, he exchanged volleys with USC varsity star Jerome Uy. He recalls his dad, Ruel, tying his tennis shoelaces. During the 1990s, he idolized Andre Agassi. He sat fronting the TV mesmerized at his two-handed backhand.
Randy del Valle never pursued tennis as his own sport. Today, he plays badminton. But among all the activities that make people sweat—tennis is his favorite. Two months ago, Randy fulfilled a lifelong dream that millions of people can only think about, salivate at, and imagine.
He visited Wimbledon. He watched Marat Safin. He cheered on Venus Williams. He blinked at Andy Roddick’s 145-mph serve. He poured his hands inside the bowl of strawberries and cream. He sat on “Henman Hill” and snapped photos of the grass with the “W” logo.
Randy left for London last June 19 with his beautiful wife Christine (who’s celebrating her birthday tomorrow) and their cute 3 1/2–year-old son Luigi. For 22 days, they toured London. They also hopped to Paris and stayed there for five days. Then in Amsterdam, for two nights.
It all began as a dream for Randy. He’s 30 years old, happily-married, and blessed with many friends who include members of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP). At work, he excels. At the oil giant Shell Phils., where he’s held office for the last nine years, Randy is the Retail District Manager—not just for Cebu City or the province—but for the whole Visayas.
So, life is good…
“But Wimbledon is a dream,” Randy told me when we met the other Friday.
This dream all started when Randy’s sister, Ruby Dacanay, who’s London-based for the past seven years, invited his younger brother to visit.
“Last year,” said Randy, “my sister decided to join the Wimbledon online lottery to purchase tickets.” (In case you didn’t know, among all the world’s sporting events, Wimbledon is one of the most difficult to watch. You can’t purchase a ticket outright—you’ve got to bid and hope to get picked.) And so Ruby submitted a bid—and was chosen! She called Randy early this year, who talked it over with his wife Christine, until finally, they said, “Let’s, go!”
On June 19, the del Valles flew via Singapore Airlines and landed at the busiest airport in the world, Heathrow. In the next few days, like any tourist would do, they toured London: Buckingham Palace. London Bridge. Westminster Abbey. They took photos of the River Thames. Finally, the day arrived: Monday, June 25, Day One, Wimbledon.
Randy and Christine had two reserved tickets for June 28, a Thursday. But Randy couldn’t wait. So the next day, they lined up.
“When you join the queue,” Randy said “it takes three or more hours to get in. And since it was Day Two, when many fans would line up, we thought we’d wait a very long time. We got there at 12 noon and, would you believe, we got in after only a 45-minute wait! We were very lucky.”
Entering the hallowed gates of the All-England Club, who did Randy and Christine see? Familiar names. Safin. Robredo. Karlovic. Santoro. They watched Venus Williams almost lose her first round match. Good she did not: she went on to win the women’s title. That was June 26.
Two days later, with reserved seats at Courts 1 and 2, Randy and Christine once more entered Wimbledon. This time, they watched even better matches: Andy Roddick versus Fernando Verdasco. And, one of the event’s best matches: Juan Carlos Ferrero beating James Blake. They also saw Nicholas Kiefer, Jelena Jankovic and the Indian star, Sania Mirza.
Juan Carlos Ferrero
Randy and Christine