It’s a first. For the first five years, it was held in Manila. Now, it’s here in Cebu. I’m talking of the national tennis tournament for priests that’s called the Fr. Suarez Cup.
Over 100 priests from all over the nation are here in our shores to swat forehands, to exchange volleys, to serve. Yes, these clergymen not only serve their parishes but also serve the tennis ball.
Fr. Fernando Suarez, known all over the world as a healing priest who has healed hundreds, if not thousands, founded this event in 2010. From an initial 50+ participants, it has grown three-fold.
The three-day tournament started last Tuesday with a mass at 11 a.m. officiated by Bishop Ricardo Baccay of Tuguegarao. In his inspiring homily — the first time I’ve heard mass where majority of the attendees were priests — he exhorted all “to be active.” Bishop Baccay said that for the priests to be energized and ready to serve, they have to be physically active. Tennis, the sport involving service, is an ideal sport for real-life service.
The event is divided into singles and doubles categories. For the singles play, there are three groups: 45 years old and under, 46 to 55, and 56 and older. Doubles is open to all age brackets.
Together with several from Cebu (Mike Sy, Wilson Ong, Fritz Tabura, Nino Siso and more), we’ve helped organize the event. The challenge is how to accommodate over 100 players in all categories in three short days. We had to pick five venues: Alta Vista, Citigreen, Talisay Tennis Club, La Paloma and Pardo Tennis Club.
The Fr. Suarez Cup is exciting not only because the priests are able to enjoy the sport they love; they’re also able to mingle with fellow netters who come from Mindoro, Bicol, Manila, Bacolod, Maasin, Cagayan de Oro and several more cities. Plus, the prizes are good: a trip to Rome and a brand-new motorcycle for the winners. And, the chance to represent the country in the international for-priests-only tournament in Poland later this year.
I got the chance to play with Fr. Suarez himself the past week and he’s a Class A player who’ll be tough to beat, especially in singles. The event finishes today with the final matches in Alta Vista and Citigreen; it culminates with mass and dinner tonight at The