Butch Bacani: Tennis Pros’ Pro

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!

Categorized as Tennis
John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!


  1. Hey Butch!
    I cant believe how many articles there are about you. You look really busy. I hope you are enjoying your fame. The house is finally built. My tennis game is ok…. school is taking a lot of time away from it though. I do get on the courts about 12-15 hours per week. Whenever I go to Tops or Mako Bowl I think of you. Remember Mary Tracy? My parents say hello. Write me back if you get a chance. Vinni.

  2. September 08, 2008

    Dearest Bak (Butch),

    This is your sister.
    It is only today that I learned about your being in the web site.
    Words are not enough to let you know how proud I am and the entire Bacani and Limpo and Canlas Clans in Pampanga, Manila ,California and London in your great success.

    Our parents must be looking down from heaven with beaming eyes on you.

    Finally Dad’s words in the 1970s…
    ” that you are the future of the RP Tennis ” came true .
    May God continually bless your tennis endeavors. May you always be the inspiration of our Filipino youth for their strivings to be proud as Pinoy Tennis Players!!!

    We love you and we are all very proud of You,

    Ate Bing, Don, Ate Susie, Kuya Sytong and Remy , Lee and Raquel , Limpo Family (Aunt Fely, Nina, Meg, Buda and all ) Evelyn Canlas , Westley and Joel


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