Memories of The Decade (2010-2019)

2010 – 2014

October 10 was the only special memory I can remember in 2010. This was supposed to be an ordinary Sunday afternoon. Then, Dianne and I met in a mall. I could not remember the exact reason why we met. One thing’s for sure, it was a planned meet. Nothing romantic whatsoever. We were just friends. Unexpectedly, we found ourselves playing Virtua Tennis in Nintendo Wii. She was Ana Ivanovic and I was Rafael Nadal in a clay court. She lost. I was the King of Clay but when we changed players to Roger Federer and Rafa, she won. Dianne punished me with her deep groundstrokes. 2011 came. It was this year when Novak Djokovic dominated the ATP Tour. I was still a big fan of him that year and I was overjoyed he won a total of 70 matches and lost only 6 and hailed as the new World Number 1 after winning Wimbledon in singles.

My first promotion in work happened in 2012. I participated and passed the SEO Analyst Training Program. This was a milestone to me. If the job of a psychologist is to diagnose a mental health disorder and conduct therapy without medication, my job as an SEO Analyst is to diagnose what’s right and what’s not in a web page then decide what to do to improve its online visibility. 2013 then there was 2014. This was my favorite year of the decade! I ended the year on a high as I dug in, dug deep and made it happen to watch a tennis exhibition live at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. I was with my dad. He is not a tennis fan and until now as I am writing this, I did not know if he genuinely enjoyed the adventure or genuinely felt anxious seeing me on a Cloud 9.

Dean Ryan Martin Proactive Bookworm
The kid in me was genuinely happy when I found this book – my favorite show way back when. *Cough* I’m 35 now *Cough*

2015 – 2019

2015 was a miracle. Daddy and I made our second trip in Mall of Asia Arena to watch IPTL. I could still remember the night when I saw Ana Ivanovic and Rafael Nadal. Excitement and happiness devoured me while watching their matches in VIP area. Luckily, Daddy had them signed my white souvenir cap. After all those moments of nirvana, I felt totally spastic. I mean, I have cerebral palsy and I am expected to have concrete-like adductors and hamstrings. My spasticity and I are inseparable. Therefore, I needed to return to physical therapy for good. In 2016, I made it happen. My physical therapists thoroughly explained to me what gone wrong and what gone right. It seemed like my rebirth while listening with all the information I learned about myself (Just A Cupid Insert: Learning with their beautiful DDC Clinical Instructor). It made me wonder why I was denied to receive the exterior truth about myself when I was the one who suffered much since five years old. Too late for blaming, life continues, I am not dead yet, then 2017 came. Damn it, this year was the decade heaviest! It made no logical sense to me when my best friend for 18 more years backstabbed me. I said a garbage joke to him, he took it too seriously like his sexual orientation depends on it, then I found out he was spreading the joke to his girlfriend and family. What a delusional fella. Best friendship ended, regrets as usual, I could have allowed him to stay in my support system but that was better decision to end all. I was exhausted and “was poisoned” of his eccentric personality since Day 1.

I kept holding on with life until I made 2018. It was a renaissance. Slowly but surely, I recovered from the tragedy. I decided to read fiction books to heal my bleeding soul and I was “surprisingly” elected as the Alumni President in BS Psychology while working full time. I celebrated my birthday with a group of DDH Physical Therapists too. This year was stressful but greatly memorable. 2019 was a first. I had enough psychologically and decided to consult a psychiatrist for the unresolved fragments that happened two years ago. This was the moment I realized even a psych major also needs professional help. A lot of people would misunderstand the decision I made. Never give a care anyway. Their perceptions were all inaccurate stereotypes. Their perceptions were their truth about themselves, not mine. I understood the truth clearer. I thought the year would ended this way. Holy cow, Cupid played his tricks. He put me on a love triangle again – a moment of my decade to realize that I am either plainly stupid or I am not choosing who to fall with.

VAMOS Rafa!

Last year, Rafael Nadal played in Manila for the first time. I was there. Over there. Live. Can you find me?

iptlmla2015_rafael_nadal

This photo is originally posted in 10sballs.com – it’s a tennis website filled with news and stores. Thanks to Google Images! There’s more to it. I was also caught watching Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Philipp Kohlscreiber.

YouTube Screenshot

There’s me, smiling while watching Ana Ivanovic winning a set against Karolina Pliskova.

IPTL2012_SerenaWilliams_DuguotPH

And there’s Serena Williams! She’s the World Number 1 and she’s undefeated in her three singles. All credit to DugOut Philippines.

IPTL2015_PhillipKohlcreiber_YouTube

Lastly, there’s Philipp Kohlschreiber. There’s me too in a yellow polo shirt facing the entrance door. I couldn’t remember why.

Rafa Wins Monte Carlo 2016

At last, Rafael Nadal opens 2016 with an explosive win in Monte Carlo. Before the details, let’s rewind the time a bit.

Rafa-Monte-Carlo-2016

Rafa failed to win a grand slam in 2015. In fact, he only won two titles in clay. The first was in Buenos Aires. It’s a 250-tournament so the draw was easy for the King of Clay.

He defeated four Argentians in straight sets – namely Facundo Arguello (4, 0), Federico Delbonis (1, 1), Carlos Berloq (6, 2) and Juan Monaco (4, 1).

He went to Harmburg (a 500-tournament) after his second-round exit in Wimbledon. There, he faced a more competitive draw. He outlasted Fernando Verdasco (3, 1, 1), Jiri Veseley (4, 6), Pablo Cuevas (3, 2), Andreas Seppi (1, 2) and Fabio Fognini (5, 5).

It’s too early to say but it seems 2016 is a renaissance year for Rafa. He opens the clay season by winning his ninth title in Monte Carlo – his favorite tournament according to his autobiography.

Monte Carlo is a 1000-Master tournament – where he’s seeded five. He received a first round bye but he faced tougher competitors in the succeeding rounds.

Rafa-returnsIn the second round, the bankable rising-star from Great Britain, Aljaz Bedene, scored a total of six games. Dominic Thiem is a new Austrian supernova who won three clay titles in 2015 + 1 this year (as of this writing). But against Rafa, he exited in straight sets.

Stan Wawrinka stopped Rafa from winning his second Australian Open title in 2014. It’s a hardcourt surface but it’s a different story in clay. Rafa allowed him to win five games in the quarterfinals.

Andy Murray and Gael Monfils tested the King in the last final rounds, respectively. It seemed Murray couldn’t repeat his straight-set victory in Madrid. After winning the first set, Rafa fought back and found himself in finals after eight months of waiting and recovering.

The finals took more than two hours. Rafa lost the second set but ended the match on fire. At long last, all his hard work paid off.

Personally, he’s my favorite to win French Open for the 10th time but somehow, less expectation is healthier than making predictions. Rafa will take it one match at a time. VAMOS!

Photo Courtesy of: Rafael Nadal Fans

#IPTL2015: Congratulations Slammers!

Who have thought Singapore Slammers would win the second season of International Premier Tennis League (IPTL)?

Singapore Slammers Won IPTL 2015
Courtesy: IPTL World

No one, probably. I never predicted it. I saw the Slammers vs Aces doubles match the night before the finale and I thought Slammers won by points (27:21) but the defending champion would have their revenge the following day.

I was wrong. The second season of IPTL was unpredictable till the very last piece of the puzzle. Singapore Slammers, as led by Nick Kyrgios in Japan, Manila and India legs began the race as an inferior losing their first match to UAE Royals in Kobe (20:26).

While in Manila, I remembered Slammers was consistently ranked fourth. Philippine Mavericks (pictured below), on the other hand, began strong in home soil. Thanks to Serena Williams for her dominance in women’s singles!

Mavs ranked number one after Day 1. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Mavs fell to second place arriving in the third leg, continued to spiral down and ended in fourth place overall (11 matches played, 6 matches won, 253 games won, 48.1% games won percentage).

The Philipine Mavericks IPTL 2015

Slammers began to climb the team ranking when Andy Murray join the team in UAE leg. The 2013 Wimbledon Champion defeated Roger Federer in men’s singles (6-4). Overall, Slammers upset the home favorite by three points (27:24). The next day, Nick Kyrgios closed out the match (27:16) against Aces with a 6-1 confident win over Bernard Tomic.

Before the finale on December 20th, Slammers lost and won a match in home soil (23:27 vs Royals and 27:21 vs Aces). Slammers won 4 of 5 sets against Aces in the final match.

Expect the unexpected, as they say. Carlos Moya opened a 6-4 win over Fabrice Santoro. Belinda Bencic survived a scare from Svetlana Kuznetsova (6-5). Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza stayed invincible against Karolina Pliskova and Dustin Brown (6-2).

Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open Champion, saved his team and wasted no time to defeat Bernard Tomic (6-3). Wawrinka partnered with Marcelo Melo to keep the momentum swinging in their favor 6-3 against Bopanna and Ivan Dodig.

5 legs. 5 teams. 5 stadiums. 18 days. 1 Champion: Congratulations Singapore Slammers!

#IPTL2015: The Unfinished Business

MY SECOND TRIP TO IPTL WAS UNCERTAIN

I haven’t recovered from all the expenses I spent last year when CNN revealed Rafael Nadal is confirmed to play in Manila. That’s around April 2015.

“Are you kidding me?,” I said to myself. Rafa needed no introduction. He’s the King of Clay and was one of the very first players I saw in TV. I saw him won French Open the day after Ana Ivanovic raised the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.

I made up my mind. I took calculated risks and decided to come up with a new budget plan.

Backhand Stroke

Daddy and I were supposed to buy two upper box tickets. It’s all I could afford for the two of us. Yet, to make things better (less traffic and such), I decided to have the General Admission. This way, we could use the rest of the money for hotel booking near the Mall of Asia Arena.

The plan worked. All booked before our departure and listed below were my Top 10 happy moments (in random order):

Number One

Mr. Jun P. Fuentes is the senior manager in operations. We had the chance to meet him as we entered the indoor stadium. He told us we would take the nicest view in the upper box 417.

With Mr. Jun Fuentes

Then the next day (December 7, 2015), we met him again and he informed us to take the VIP. For a second, there were firecrackers in my mind. I couldn’t believe it. I shook his hand and thanked him happily.

Number Two

Due to tight security, these were the closest shots I could get to Rafael Nadal, Ana Ivanovic and Treat Huey. I was too close but not quite enough to meet them. No regrets though. Just saying.

Rafael Nadal in IPTL Manila

I needed to stand a little to see the whole court but never mind, I saw it before. I memorized it every inch. Time was wasted if I focus too much on the negative. This was a happy moment – the moment that I was living the time of my life. I was savoring every second before it ends. Believe me, it feels like I reached Nirvana!

Ana Ivanovic in IPTL Manila

I couldn’t feel my face every time I heard them hit the ball with full power. It’s a smashing sound of a clean plate unto a blank wall. I wondered what type of stretching and how many reps they regularly do to rotate their shoulders freely.

Treat Huey in IPTL Manila

Daddy did all the walking for me. He was with the Millennials. Luckily, he had the chance to have Rafa and Ana signed my Manila Mavericks cap. The missing pieces of a gigantic puzzle in me was instantly completed when I held this cap in my hands. Mission accomplished!

IPTL Manila in Mall of Asia Arena

Number Three

Goran Ivanisevic, the retired 2001 Wimbledon Champion, smiled at me. If only there’s such a thing as an invisible camera inside my brain, I would haven taken a quick snap and frame it.

Goran Ivanisevic in IPTL Manila

Team Royals was warming up for the match. I was there looking at their bench when out of the blue, Ivanisevic smiled directly at me. I smiled back but I was pretty sure he has no idea how my stomach was tied in knots. After their match, Goran and Kristina Mladenovic signed my Wii Virtua Tennis 4.

Number Four

I saw a total of six matches in three consecutive days. Philippine Mavericks, as led by the current world number 1 Serena Williams, was unbeaten versus UAE Royals (29:18), Warriors (25:21) and Aces (25:24).

As I predicted it, Serena won all her singles (6-3 vs Ana Ivanovic, Kurumi Nara and Samatha Stosur) but lost her two mixed doubles with Treat Huey.

Serena Williams in 2015 IPTL Manila

Richard Gasquet and Edouard Roger-Vasselin teamed up for the first time in doubles. It’s my first time to see them live. I remembered Gasquet due to his glorious one-handed backhand.

Truth is, he’s tagged as the Baby Federer, who became a two-time semifinalist in Wimbledon. Vasselin, however, was an unexpected French Open Champion in Doubles.

They played well, they moved well and they won in Day 1 against Tomas Berdych and Daniel Nestor (6-3). They lost a tight set, however, against Ivan Dodig and Rafael Nadal in Day 3.

Number Five

Last year, Coca-Cola handed me two tickets for lower-box. This year, they gave me a ball signed by the French Open Champion himself.

Unexpectedly, they also handed me freebies such as towel, t-shirt, tumblers, key chain and Powerade. Thank you, Coke!

Coca-Cola in IPTL Manila

We’re blessed to have Tony De Los Reyes. He was there to assist our needs such as getting to the right direction while wheeling my wheelchair. He’s an EMT of Philippine Red Cross. Here we were in one photo. As expected, I don’t know how to smile.

Philippine Red Cross in 2015 IPTL Manila

Number Six

Chris Portillo Meets Daniela Hantuchova
Chris Portillo’s iPhone

Daddy and I were having breakfast when Mr. Chris Portillo approached us in Microtel. He introduced himself then we shook hands.

We briefly talked about IPTL, his role in Rotary Club and he showed me photos with his tennis favorites such as Kristina Mldenovic, Gael Mofils, Goran Ivanisevic and Daniela Hantuchova.

I was kinda jealous upon discovering these photos were taken during the welcome party a day before the 2014 inaugural.

Mr. Portillo gave us his calling card and said to keep in touch.

Number Seven

Abhishek Ponia is the Operation Vice President of IPTL. I felt glad I met him. Basically, he was sitting in the VIP upper row when I told my dad to introduce himself to him. He approached me. I introduced myself, I wasn’t sure if he heard me but he sat beside me and he took pictures of the crowd using his smart phone.

Vice President of 2015 IPTL

Number Eight

It’s the last day of IPTL in Manila when I met Jason de la Peña. He’s a news reporter in Fox Sports Asia, which is one of my favorite channels in Cable TV. I always watched him hosting the Special Updates for French Open and Wimbledon with Anne Keothavong and Marion Bartoli, respectively.

Jason De la Pena

Number Nine

Lucky 9! Royals vs Slammers was the first scheduled match in Day 3. Ana Ivanovic was up against the fast rising-star Karolina Pliskova in the first. There again – I cheered for the Serbian superstar, who couldn’t hold serve. It looked like she had no rhythm to keep the ball in.

Ana Ivanovic survives a scare in IPTL Manila

I had no idea if she heard me every time I shouted “Ajde (Serbian term for Come on).” Though, here’s the catch. There was this one split second that I noticed she looked straight right at me. It’s quick but it’s real. I swear I wasn’t having hallucinations. There’s a stimuli. I saw it with my two eyes open wide and inside of me, I floated on a Cloud 9.

Surprisingly, Ana held serve at love and broke for a 5-3 lead. Momentum shifted again and Pliskova’s effortless aggressive game took the set to a shootout. Ana fearlessly found a way to survive and won (6-5).

Just curious, did I help her win?

Number Ten

The weather was good all throughout. It’s raining a bit when my dad and I arrived in Manila though it stopped. We left by plane a day after the show (December 9). We arrived in Davao City 40-minutes past lunch time.

Daddy and I headed to the nearest mall to eat lunch and to print the photos after. It’s a long day and I was quite sleepy. Sleepy but happier. Sleepy but more accomplished.

Special Mention

A week after, I was preparing myself to work when Mr. Ponia sent me a message via Facebook. It felt like I was still dreaming while reading his message. He said he left a parcel in City of Dreams (COD) Crown Towers exclusively for me. It’s the hotel where the IPTL Tennis players stayed.

I couldn’t believe it. Ask all the saints in heaven – I wasn’t expecting the message at all. Bringing myself back in reality after a second, I remembered I have a sister in Metro Manila. I immediately requested her to get it for me. I also sent an email to COD Concierge.

Due to rainy weather, it took her a while to get the parcel. When she finally received the parcel and opened it out of curiosity, it was a tennis ball signed by Rafael Nadal. VAMOS!

* * * * *

Here I am. The ball is in my hand at long last. The first moment I saw the ball, I immediately knew it’s something unique because Rafa put his RN Initials under his signature.

IPTL gave me a tennis ball signed by Rafael Nadal

I have his autobiography too. Daddy joined the crowd of screaming fans and let him signed it in Day 3.  Yet, there’s no initials. Thank you, Mr. Ponia. Expect me to keep this ball for the rest of my life. More and more success to IPTL!