Australian Open now, Davis Cup tomorrow

Let me join the chorus of hundreds who’ve congratulated Ricky Ballesteros. The executive director of the Sinulog Foundation, Inc., Ricky was the overseer of last Sunday’s biggest festival in the Philippines. Well done, Rick!

Jana, Jasmin and I watched from the upper deck of the Cebu City Sports Center. It was a feast for the eyes and ears. Tribu Himag-ulaw of Placer, Masbate was the best. We also relished the fast-paced presentations of the Talamban Elem. School, Tribu Buyoganon of Leyte, and the Mabolo Elem. School. The Chinese-inspired finale (starring the wushu martial artists)—plus, of course, the Chinese-invented fireworks—were fantastic.

The rain? While we were drenched last Saturday—together with Jourdan Polotan—walking the Osmeña Boulevard route during the procession, it stopped two afternoons ago. Sure, showers sprinkled but it was nowhere near the torrent of sky-water 24 hours earlier.

OZ OPEN. The first Grand Slam tennis event of the year bounced and served yesterday. Will we witness a different champion—named Murray or Djokovic—instead of R & R in Melbourne? Maybe. But, most-likely not.

Yesterday at 5:30 p.m., I watched a few minutes of Star Sports. Justin Henin played Sania Mirza. Among the ladies, can Maria Sharapova win the title? I hope so, but doubt it. Although her last Grand Slam title came at this same  Australian Open—that was three Januarys ago. Since then, the 6-foot-2 Russian-turned-Florida-resident has been busy, off-court: engaged to NBA star Sasha Vujacic and operated-on because of a shoulder injury, her world ranking slipped last year… to a painful 126.

Still, Maria is Maria. Wearing an orange and gray dress in Melbourne, no one is prettier and attracts more attention. Down Under, I hope she rises.

DAVIS CUP. It’s near. The Philippines vs. Japan tennis competition is nearing—it’s this March 4 to 6. The venue is not in Manila but is near you and me: the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.

Last week, I sat down at Bo’s Coffee with Councilor Harry Radaza, the head for sports and tourism of Lapu-Lapu City. Tickets will soon be out. By “soon,” I mean possibly next week. Prices are as follows: The least-expensive are P500 per day. Next, the “season tickets” at P2,500. These reserved seats include access to all the Friday-to-Sunday matches. Plus, you’ll receive free shirts and caps. Finally, the VIP tickets at P5,000. As expected, these are the exclusive, best seats inside Plantation Bay.

As soon as tickets are for sale, I suggest you not delay your purchase. Only 1,100 total are available. For an event this international and monumental, tickets will fly as fast as Andy Roddick’s 151-mph serve. Consider that plenty from Manila, Bohol, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao are coming. Plus, the Japanese! They, too, will gobble up tickets so they can cheer for their countrymen.

THIRSTY CUP. On to a different Cup… Now on its 8th season, the Thirsty Football Cup will be held from Feb. 4 to 6 at the Cebu City Sports Center. The deadline for registration is tomorrow, Wednesday. Call 0917-6244853 for inquiries.

ED HAYCO. Received this text message from CCSC chief Edward Hayco: “Visit Facebook.. Cebu City Sports Commission. View the CCSC billboard, the dance presentation featuring different sports, and the sports float. What we have achieved is making the athletes and coaches believe in themselves… and in their future! We also created awareness of the purpose of the Sports Institute and the free barangay grassroots sports program.”

Chairman Ed is successful because of his personal approach to sports. Dissecting the term “grassroots,” he himself plants the seeds in San Nicholas (Sports Institute) and many other barangays so that sports can take root and flourish. His success story in dancesport—emulated and featured internationally—Chairman Edward duplicating in other sports.

Like Ricky Ballesteros, he is one of the few selfless heroes of the oldest city in our country.

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