Coach Butch (right) with Michael Mora and Jana Pages
Last night, I had dinner with “The Coach.” If you’ve been in touch with Philippine tennis the past 30 years, you know him. Davis Cup captain. Mentor to dozens of RP’s finest. US-trained. Harry Hopman-tutored. Articulate. Passionate. Inspiring. There are many words to describe Coach Butch Bacani.
Here’s one more: Pete Sampras fan.
During last night’s dinner at the Cafe Laguna Garden with his assistant coach Michael Mora (a former top pro), my wife Jasmin, and our eight-year-old daughter Jana, I asked Butch: “I have this VCD of Sampras. One of the best matches I’ve ever seen. Can you guess what match it is?”
In a split-second, he replied: “Sampras versus Boris Becker, Germany, World Championships.”
I grinned from ear-to-ear. Couldn’t believe it. How did he get it? That quickly? In the split of a split-second? Well, because he’s breathed the tennis air for three decades now, “The Coach” knows the game. He knows the players. And he knows who’s the best ever. “Pete Sampras,” he tells me, “at his prime, will beat Roger Federer at his prime. Nobody has the serve, first or second serve. Nobody volleys as good. In grass and in fast hard-courts, Pete will beat Roger.” I didn’t argue. With a guru as knowledgeable as Butch Bacani, you perform one act: Nod your head.
In case you didn’t know, Butch Bacani is in Cebu for one month to teach tennis. Beginners. Adults. Advanced. Children. Parents. Grandparents. All interested, regardless of shape, age or color, are welcome to join the Monday-Wednesday-Friday sessions at the Cebu Country Club. Sessions end June 1. (Call Ging-Ging at 4161122 for more info.) All you need is your tennis racket, a pair of shorts and Tshirt and shoes… that’s it. Sponsored by SMART, this is–simply amazing–for free!