Tennis prodigy Sacapano looks to make her mark at Palaro
MANILA, Philippines - You could say that Averille Sacapano's relationship with tennis was love at first sight. When she was in third grade her father Arnel Sacapano – an accomplished athlete in multiple sports – returned home with a new racket and allowed her to hold it.
Since then she has scarcely been seen without it, beginning training under her Dad soon after. Now the 11-year-old is quickly earning a reputation as one of the most gifted young prodigies in the Philippines.
Sacapano will represent Western Visayas at this year's Palarong Pambansa in Laguna, Philippines, which will take place between May 4-10. At stake are invitations to future tennis meets, including tournaments in Malaysia, as well as a fun story to tell her classmates.
Sacapano, known for her adept backhand volleys, has won several tournaments, including the Philta-Palawan Pawnshop Regional age-group tennis tournament 12-and-under crown in 2013, followed by the 12 and 14-and-under titles in the PSC-PHILTA Visayas Junior Tennis Championships in November.
She also placed second in the Olivares Cup, all of which has served to prepare her for the biggest stage she has yet competed on.
"First we had provincial meets in the province of Aklan I won gold. Next was regionals of Western Visayas where I won gold, so I was qualified to join Palaro," said Sacapano, who will start seventh grade this coming school year.
For Sacapano, whose tennis heroes include Maria Sharapova and Stanislas Wawrinka, the only passion that rivals tennis for her is school. She finished her elementary school tenure as valedictorian of her class this past year with a focus on English as her best subject.
"It's because I study hard and I don't like my grades low," says Sacapano.
So far her biggest obstacle towards her goals has been finding time to train. The only other girl around her age to train with in Aklan is her eight-year-old sister and finding court time can be difficult.
Currently she's only able to train for 30 minutes every other day and must travel to find competition. Hitting the road is her favorite part of tennis, however, and she says she favors Iloilo because she has many friends there.
Her mother Jhenyfer Sacapano notes that tennis has helped her develop positive characteristics that will help her later in life. "She has learned to get friendship with her opponents and I think much she becomes more mature about sportsmanship," said her mother.
She swings her racket with purpose; for her there is no greater purpose for winning gold at Palarong Pambansa than pleasing the father who first introduced her to the sport she loves.
"It means a lot," said Sacapano of taking top honors at Palaro. "My Dad will be very happy for me." - Rappler.com