Monthly Archives: January 2018

Roger’s 20th

Michael Jordan, after leading the Chicago Bulls to NBA titles from 1991 to 1993, stopped playing basketball and pressed the pause button. When he returned, MJ scored another three-peat from 1996 to 1998.

Roger Federer, a fellow Nike endorser (they jointly-designed the Zoom Vapor Air Jordan shoes), followed a similar pattern. After winning a record 17 majors from 2003 to 2012, he stopped winning the Grand Slam trophies. More than four years passed before he won again (last year’s Australian Open). And now, in a span of 12 months, he has collected 3 of the 5 Grand Slam singles titles.

Calm, relaxed and collected all throughout his seven matches in Melbourne, his emotions burst open during the awarding when tears of happiness flowed. As inhuman as he is with that Wilson racket, he’s human. He cries. He laughs like a little kid while being interviewed by Jim Courier. In the history of all sports, he ranks as one of the classiest and most respected of gentlemen. To the list that include Pele, Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan, add the name “Roger Federer.”

FRITZ STROLZ. I requested a dear friend to write about his fellow countryman. Dr. Fritz Strolz was born and raised in Switzerland. While there, he met a Cebuana (Pearle) and they settled and lived in the same land as Mr. Federer.

In a piece he entitled, “We Cried Tears of Joy,” here’s the commentary of Dr. Strolz:

“It is a privilege to follow the extraordinary career of a Swiss sportsman. He is an athlete and a man whose story that could not be better invented in the dream factory Hollywood.

“Last Sunday, we sat in front of the TV with our mouths open and with watery eyes. Pearle suffered with Roger; she tigered around like in a cage and at every point she cried out.

“We are desperately looking for superlatives for Roger. If you don’t have the words, music often helps. Then you can at least hum along in your mind. ‘You’re Simply The Best,’ by Tina Turner would be a variant. Or ‘You are the champion,’ the adapted version of Freddie Mercury.

“Roger is a star who, with his infinite ease, his unique suppleness, his incredible talent and his flair for tennis, is once again fascinating the world. The phenomenal successes are one thing. For him, winning is never a matter of course. Tears never lie. His emotions leave no one untouched.

“Roger embodies typical Swiss characteristics: Humility, respect, modesty and devotion. He is down-to-earth and yet worldly. Modest and yet self-confident. Cosmopolitan yet thoroughly Swiss.

“For someone who does such extraordinary things, he leads an astonishingly ordinary life. He resists being held hostage to his popularity. For example, he takes the children to the zoo by tram. He stands in the swimming pool for an ice-cream shake.

“The injury to his left knee showed his own finiteness. Since then, he has enjoyed every second he is allowed to stand on the world stages. When asked what drives him, the answer is always the same, perhaps banal: He loves tennis.”

Hyeon Chung

South Korea is home to Samsung, Hyundai, LG, Kia Motors and over 52 million people. Here in the Philiippines, it is estimated that over 1.5 million Koreans visited the country in 2017. In the realm of sports, the Winter Olympic games will be held in Pyeongchang (about 180 kms. from Seoul) next month, from February 9 to 25. If we consider the most popular sports in Korea, they are football and baseball. With golf, the lady golfers dominate: five of the world’s Top 12 money earners come from Korea, including Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu.

There’s a new star in Korean sports: Hyeon Chung. If you haven’t heard of him before this week, you’re forgiven. Ranked No. 58 and only 21 years old, he’s not a famous name in tennis. But after winning five of five thus far in the Australian Open, this 6-foot-2 netter is now one of Korea’s most famous personalities.

Last Monday, I watched his Round of 16 battle against six-time Oz Open winner Novak Djokovic. What a display of steady and power tennis. We know Djokovic is not at his peak yet, having returned from a six-month layoff. But the performance of Chung (including a win over Sascha Zverez) was outstanding. He is a legitimate future Top 10 player.

The question is: Can he beat the defending champion, Roger Federer, in the semis (granted that RF won his quarterfinals last night) ? The odds are absolutely against Chung. He will have to play even better compared to how he played Novak. He will have nothing to lose but the heavy favorite to win the whole tournament and to pocket his 20th Grand Slam title is the gentleman from Basel, Switzerland.

Still, Korea is rejoicing with the emergence of their new tennis star.

Casino Español billiards

If you’re a billiards and Bata Reyes fanatic, tonight is the night. Casino Español de Cebu, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020, has organized an exciting event that’s open to the public.

Efren “Bata” Reyes, also nicknamed “The Magician,” will be playing tonight with the Mandaue City-born top female billiards champion, Rubilen Amit.

Bata Reyes needs no introduction but Ms. Amit is also one of the nation’s best. Our sportswriters group awarded Rubilen in 2013 and 2014 as the “Athlete of the Year.” During that period, she was the world’s top World 10 Ball champion and partnered with her compatriot tonight (Bata Reyes) to win the Mixed Doubles World title.

With Bata Reyes in Casino Español

The venue will be the Salon de España of Casino Español and the exhibition games start at 7 p.m. But prior to that, there will be prelimary games starting at 3:30 p.m. The official statement from the club reads: “Watch Ipar Miranda, Mic Mic Miranda, Abe Sy, Wellington Yu, Kevin Co, Kendrick Sulay, Jose Rodolfo Tiu, II and the winners get to team up with the billiard greats.”

Tickets are priced at P700 (for members) and P800 (for guests), already inclusive of the club’s superb dinner buffet.

That’s Bata Reyes and Rubilen Amit at 7 p.m. later in Casino Español.