#IPTL2015: Bigger, Brighter, Better

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) will return in the Philippines for a bigger, brighter and better three-night extraordinary event.

While Coca-Cola stays as its title sponsor, the Mall of Asia Arena remains to stage the show’s second season in December 6 (Sunday), 7 (Monday) and 8 (Tuesday). Filipino fans will get to see and meet more than 30 stars.

IPTL 2015 Manila Press Conference
Photo Courtesy of: Blogspot

Bigger and Brighter IPTL 2015?

Reason 1:

Yes. There are team reshuffles and new stars in line. Current World Number 1, Serena Williams (a former Slammer), will lead the newly-named Philippine Mavericks.

She’s joined by Richard Gasquest (2015 Wimbledon semi-finalist), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2008 Australian Open finalist), Sabine Lisicki (2013 Wimbledon finalist), Treat Huey (4-time Doubles Champion), Milos Raonic (2014 Wimbledon semifinalist), Jarmila Gajdosova (2013 Australian Open Mixed Doubles Champion) and Borna Coric (2013 Junior US Open Champion). Mark Philippoussis (Retired 2003 Wimbledon finalist) will return as the team captain.

Reason 2:

Season 2 will feature five teams, instead of four. Maria Sharapova (a former Maverick) and Kei Nishikori (2014 US Open finalist) will lead Japan Warriors and will attempt to knockout Indian Aces, Singapore Slammers, UAE Royals and Philippine Mavericks in a five-set format.

Other warriors include Kurumi Nara (2014 Rio Open Champion), Leander Paes (2015 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles), Vasek Pospisil (2014 Wimbledon Doubles Champion), Lucas Pouille (ATP Rising Star), Daniela Hantuchova (a former Slammer) and Marat Safin (Retired 2005 Australian Open Champion).

Reason 3:

Hold your breath. Nine-time French Open Champion, Rafael Nadal, will represent Indian Aces for his debut. He’s also confirmed to play in Manila – the second leg of the tournament.

Other confirmed players as published in local news sites are:

  • Ana Ivanovic (2008 French Open Champion),
  • Gael Monfils (2008 French Open semifinalist),
  • Daniela Hantuchova (2008 Australian Open semifinalist),
  • Tomas Berdych (2010 Wimbledon finalist),
  • Nick Kyrgios (2014 Wimbledon quarter-finalist),
  • Kei Nishikori (2014 US Open runner-up),
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (2012 Wimbledon finalist)

Better IPTL 2015?

Reason 1:

Maybe yes. It’s hard to say things will be better unless you’re there in the moment, right?One thing is certain, however. The are no changes in match format. It stays the same.

Like in inaugural, there are two matches that will consist of five ties: men singles, women singles, mixed doubles, men doubles and legend singles. A point is added to a team scoreboard each time he, she or they win a game.

Reason 2:

In 2014, Filipino fans saw four teams of six to seven members in three nights – same names and same faces. They competed against each other and even without Roger Federer, Indian Aces came on top unharmed.

In December, it gets better to see how will the new schedule divide the five teams. Does this mean one team will not participate in Night 1 but will play in Night 2? Will Philippine Mavericks play in three consecutive nights?

Reason 3:

Ticket rates remain the same. General admission costs 3000 Php while the VIP clocks at 49000Php. Rest assured, these rates are still worth the time and money considering it’s a three-day pass. A match will also last for three hours. For more inquiries, go to IPTL World.

UPDATE: October 14

The IPTL organizers finally released the schedule for Japan, Philippines, India, UAE and Singapore legs. Philippine Mavericks will play three times in home soil.

The team will compete against the UAE Royals in Night 1, Japan Warriors in Night 2 and Indian Aces in Night 3.

It’s still hard to predict who will win in each set considering the list of confirmed players for Manila leg remains incomplete.

Perhaps, tennis fans will see a showdown between Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic should the Serbian represents Royals in singles.

IPTL 2015 Schedule

Richard Gasquet might represent the country for men’s singles and will play against Kei Nishikori in Night 2.

If Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will replace Gasquet in Day 3, the Frenchman will definitely play against the King of Clay and former World Number 1, Rafael Nadal.

UPDATE: November 29

IPTL confirmed the following players will play in Manila leg, which will start in December 6 and will conclude in December 8.

For Philippine Mavericks:

The Mavericks will compete against the Royals on Day 1. Confirmed players to represent UAE Royals are:

  • Ana Ivanovic (2008 French Open Champion)
  • Tomas Berdych (2010 Wimbledon Finalist)
  • Goran Ivanisevic (2001 Wimbledon Champion)
  • Kristina Mladenovic (2014 AO Mixed Doubles Champion)
  • Daniel Nestor (Multiple Grand Slam Doubles Champion)

Japan Warriors will attempt to knockdown the home team on Day 2. The following warriors are in action:

Last year, Indian Aces overpowered Mavericks in home soil. Can Mavs have their revenge?

Mavericks will not compete against Singapore Slammers yet the following players are still expected to come and play.

Who’ll Win IPTL 2015?

Prediction 1:

It’s hard to tell, considering Manila is simply the second leg of the tournament. The team who ranks number one in Kobe, Japan (December 2 to 4) might carry the momentum and will retain the rank after the Manila leg.

Prediction 2:

I expect Mavericks to win all the women’s singles in home soil, if the order of play will look like this (just guessing):

Day 1: Warriors vs. Slammers

Men’s Singles: Kohlschreiber vs. Kyrgios, W: Kyrgios

Women’s Singles: Hantuchova vs. Bencic, W: Hantuchova

Men’s Doubles: Kohlschreiber/Paes vs. Brown/Melo, W: Kohlschreiber/Paes

Mixed Doubles: Paes/Hantuchova vs. Brown/Pliskova, W: Paes/Hantuchova

Legend’s Singles: Safin vs. Moya, W: Safin

Day 1: Mavericks vs. Royals

Men’s Singles: Gasquet vs. Berdych, W: Berdych

Women’s Singles: Williams vs. Ivanovic, W: Williams

Men’s Doubles: Huey/Roger-Vasselin vs. Berdych/Nestor, W: Huey/Roger-Vasselin

Mixed Doubles: Gasquet/Tomljanovic vs. Nestor/Mladenovic, W: Nestor/Mladenovic

Legend’s Singles: Philippoussis vs. Ivanisevic, W: Philippoussis

Day 2: Aces vs. Royals

Men’s Singles: Nadal vs. Berdych, W: Berdych

Women’s Singles: Radwanska vs. Ivanovic, W: Ivanovic

Men’s Doubles: Bopanna/Monfils vs. Nestor/Berdych, W: Nestor/Berdych

Mixed Doubles: Mirza/Bopanna vs. Mladenovic/Nestor, W: Mladenovic/Nestor

Legend’s Singles: Santoro vs. Ivanisevic, W: Santoro

Day 2: Mavericks vs. Warriors

Men’s Singles: Gasquet vs. Kohlschreiber, W: Gasquet

Women’s Singles: Williams vs. Hantuchova, W: Williams

Men’s Doubles: Huey/Raonic vs. Paes/Kohlschreiber, W: Huey/Raonic

Mixed Doubles: Raonic/Gajdosova vs. Paes/Nara, W: Raonic/Gajdosova

Legend’s Singles: Philippoussis vs. Safin, W: Philippoussis

Day 3: Slammers vs. Royals

Men’s Singles: Kyrgios vs. Berdych, W: Berdych

Women’s Singles: Pliskova vs. Ivanovic, W: Ivanovic

Men’s Doubles: Melo/Kyrgios vs. Nestor/Berdych, W: Nestor/Berdych

Mixed Doubles: Bencic/Brown vs. Nestor/Mladenovic, W: Nestor/Mladenovic

Legend’s Singles: Moya vs. Ivanisevic, W: Ivanisevic

Day 3: Mavericks vs. Aces

Men’s Singles: Gasquet vs. Nadal, W: Nadal

Women’s Singles: Williams vs. Radwanska, W: Williams

Men’s Doubles: Huey/Roger-Vasselin vs. Bopanna/Monfils, W: Huey/Roger-Vasselin

Mixed Doubles: Gajdosova/Raonic vs Mirza/Bopanna, W: Mirza/Bopanna

Legend’s Singles: Philippoussis vs. Santoro, W: Santoro

10 Reasons Why I Love Bridges Of Love

  1. It’s a love story like no other.

ABS-CBN Bridges of Love

Bridges of Love is a soap opera written by ABS-CBN’s Star Creatives TV. The story began with two young brothers (Gael and JR) who left home to escape an abusive father. Unfortunately, Gael was too young to support their day-to-day needs.

An unexpected tragedy happened the night he sold JR. The young brother fell from a broken bridge.

Years passed by, JR escaped death by selling himself to a rich businessman, Lorenzo Antonio. JR became Carlos Antonio and he graduated as a construction engineer.

Gael, on the other hand, became a licensed architect despite of money problems. His life completely changed when he fell in love with Mia Sandoval, a beautiful and independent woman who worked as a star dancer in a club owned by the Antonio’s.

The story evolved around the three major characters – Gael, Mia and Carlos. Mia became Gael’s girlfriend but inevitably, they broke up when Gael left the country. Mia felt hopeless when her Tatang needed a kidney transplant. She had no one but her boss, Carlos Antonio.

Carlos took advantage of the situation. He helped Mia but in exchange of a deal. Mia should make love with his business client, Henson Lee. Carlos, however, changed his mind. He realized Mia was more than a woman for one night pleasure. She’s the one who will complete him.

Their story was troubled with hundreds of twists and turns. Gael began working with Carlos for a number of projects. Carlos discovered Gael was his long lost brother. Mia felt confused and couldn’t understand why Carlos despised Gael. She felt it’s more than a love triangle thing.

2. Superb cast. Quality acting.

Bridges of Love is an all-star soap opera. Every actor is given a significant background story and airtime. I observe there are no clear villains here.

These “perceived” bad characters such as Carlos, Lorenzo and Alexa are only victims of their tragic past who find it hard to move on and forgive.

The first major character is Gael Nakpil. He’s a hard working survivor portrayed by 2012 Gawad Urian Best Actor (Alagwa), Jericho Rosales. Paulo Avelino portrays the role of Carlos Antonio, a rich businessman who is consumed by anger, hurt and power. Avelino was a 2011 Gawad Urian Best Actor for “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa.”

Maja Salvador (2011’s Gawad Urian Best Actress for Thelma) proves to be a right fit for Mia Sandoval, the star dancer who eventually becomes a well-known accessory designer.

Other stars include Edu Manzano (Lorenzo Antonio), Carmina Villaroel (Alexa Meyers), Lito Pimentel (Manual Nakpil Sr.), William Lorenzo (Ramon Sandoval), Maureen Mauricio (Marilen Nakpil), Malou de Guzman (Manang Vida) and John Manalo (Tres Nakpil).

3. I see myself in Gael.

I felt what Gael felt for Mia. It’s the kind of love that’s infinite, selfless and unconditional even though it means he needs to let go. In my case, we’re good friends before I asked her if she could be my girlfriend. She said no.

I respected her decision. I moved on but I still felt hurt and jealous whenever I see her with my best friend or with another man. When she told me she’s getting married, I knew our story ended. It’s enough. I love her and I’m letting go of everything.

4. Every scene is a must-see.

I don’t watch soap operas. I hate it. The story is predictable. Bridges of Love, however, changes the way I see things. It becomes the first Filipino soap opera I’ve consistency looked forward to every night. I rarely missed an episode.

The scenes get better and better. Although I notice some traces of predictability, I never lost my interest. The show entertains me after a long day work.

5. It’s a story about forgiveness.

It’s expected for soap operas to tell a story filled with over-the-top drama, violence and sex. There were numerous scenes of extreme violence in Bridges of Love. Yet, beneath all those violent layers, the show was about forgiveness.

Carlos was consumed by anger. At first, I was convinced he never loved Mia. I noticed Mia was his rehabilitation center. She was his source of happiness and comfort when in reality, she’s not.

Carlos felt unsure about his love for Mia because he hated himself. There were a lot of missing pieces inside him. He doesn’t know how to find his identity. Below is a scene to prove it’s impossible to unconditionally love someone if you can’t forgive yourself.

6. Bridges of Love goes beyond sex.

Mia Sandoval was introduced in the show as the club star dancer. She became the center of attention every night. She was judged and labeled. However, Mia proved everyone wrong.

Temptations never hammered Mia. She stayed strong and she said no to offers even it’s from Carlos Antonio. Below is a scene to prove it takes grit to admit money can’t buy everything.

7. It’s a story about letting go.

Gael makes me realize nothing lasts forever. It’s my favorite scene when Gael decides to talk with Mia and admits he needs to let go. Memories don’t vanish but feelings do change. Letting go allows you to open a new chapter in life and start fresh.

8. It’s a story about acceptance

Acceptance is inevitable. It takes time but it happens naturally. Like Carlos Antonio, it took him more than 20 years to reveal how he’s deeply hurt by Gael.

The show reached its climax during the confrontation scene between Carlos, Mia and Gael. Mia remained silent all throughout but it looked like she created an invisible bridge to connect the two brothers.

9. Explosive Predictable Ending

I was disappointed with the finale edit. It looked like the scenes were merged into one episode instead of two. The opening scenes were explosive. Lorenzo tried to kill Mia but Gael and Carlos ran to save the girl they love. Unexpectedly, Gael was drenched in blood.

I expected the tone to last for a few more minutes but I wasn’t sure why the next scene was forwarded to what it seemed like a Gael after his years of hospitalization.

The tree scene between Carlos and Mia was my favorite. It’s the sincerest and most insightful talk between the two. I discovered Carlos was a complete change man. I’d never forget when he admitted his mistakes, “I know I promised the sunrise and sunsets with you for the rest of our lives. Pero hindi pala ‘yon sapat. Sa takot ko na mawala ka, tinuring kitang pagmamay-ari (ABS-CBNNews, 2015).”

Hopefully, the show ended with that scene but it’s still okay the production crew chose to close with a wedding scene with all the major and supporting characters. It showed Gael found his true love in Atty. Malaya (portrayed by Isabel Oli-Prats). Mia, on the other hand, returned from the US and continued her romance with Carlos.

10. It’s a story about friendship.

Real friendship never ends. Muloy Angeles, portrayed by Janus del Prado, summarizes how you can be a true friend. If there’s anyone in the show I want to become and be remembered for, that’s Muloy.

Despite of every thing they went through, either they agree or disagree with each other, Muloy never gave up on Carlos. He stayed patient, open-minded and supportive of Carlos’ decisions.

There’s one brave scene, however, Muloy chose to break the walls and stood for what he felt was right for his best friend.

Photo Courtesy of: ABS-CBN News

My Top 5 082015

No one cares about this countdown but me.

5. Coffee by: Miguel 

I wish I could paint our love | These moments and vibrant hues
Wordplay, turns in to gun play | And gun play turns into pillow talk | Pillow talk turns into sweet dreams | Sweet dreams turn into coffee in the morning [Direct Lyrics]

4. Like I’m Gonna Lose You by: Meghan Trainor ft. John Legend

So I’m gonna love you like I’m gonna lose you | And I’m gonna hold you like I’m saying goodbye | Wherever we’re standing | I won’t take you for granted | ‘Cause we’ll never know when, when we’ll run out of time [Metro lyrics]

3. Fool’s Gold by: Jill Scott

I was living the dream believing things that just ain’t true | Oh I can’t believe I ever believed in you | You had me chasing fool’s gold | I was chasing fool’s gold | I was chasing fool’s gold [AZ Lyrics]

2. No Sleeep by: Janet Jackson ft. J. Cole

You’re missing me | I’m missing you | Wherever we meet, we ain’t gonna get no sleep | You came to me to get back with you | It’s fait accompli, we ain’t gonna get no sleep [Direct Lyrics]

1) Classic Man by: Jidenna ft. Roman GianArthur

I’m a classic man | You could be mean when you look this clean | I’m a classic man | Calling on me like a young OG | I’m a classic man | Your needs get met by the street elegant old fashioned man | Yeah baby I’m a classic man [Metro Lyrics]