Advertisements


Mordido woman GM in the making

Teenage sensation Kylen Joy Mordido could well be the country’s next chess Woman Grandmaster after Janelle Mae Frayna......»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarMay 16th, 2019

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

(This story was originally published on April 20, 2018) Newly-appointed head coach Roger Gorayeb looked at his line-up heading into UAAP Season 71. A champion mentor of NCAA powerhouse San Sebastian College - Recoletos, Gorayeb had in his hands a gargantuan task of rebuilding the Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program. Just a few months before, Ronald Dulay, the mentor before him, landed a trio of blue chip recruits who were fresh from a successful stint in the Palarong Pambansa. Angeline "Dzi" Gervacio, Fille Saint Cainglet and Jamenea "Jem" Ferrer just joined the Katipunan-based squad. Gervacio and Cainglet were products of St. Scholastica's College in Manila while Ferrer was a gem from Hope Christian School under girl’s volleyball guru Jerry Yee. Looking at his 15-woman line-up with the season just a few months ahead, Gorayeb knew he needed to do something drastic. The roster just won’t do. Talking to then athletic director Ricky Palou and team manager Tony Boy Liao, the mentor told the team officials that he intended to cut five players from the list. One could just imagine the shock in their faces. “Nakita ko may line-up pero player-playeran lang yung ganoon bang tipo, 15 ata yun. Sabi ko ‘Magtatanggal ako ng lima then magre-recruit ako,’” he said. The three rookies were in. Middle Bea Pascual, Kara Acevedo and libero Steph Gabriel retained their spots. He needed more. “Sa mga tinira kong players, si Kara Acevedo sabi niya, ‘Coach mayroong player ang ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy) na gumraduate naka-exam na rito pasado.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige papuntahin mo,’” said Gorayeb. It was Gretchen Ho. “Sa akin kasi ang talagang nagyaya sa akin si Coach Ron Dulay. Si Kara Acevedo teammate ko and she’s been recruited by Ateneo. So one summer wala akong magawa naki-train lang ako noon tapos nagustuhan nila ang laro ko and then fourth year noong graduate na ako I passed the ACET then niyayaya na nila ako,” Ho said. “Then nagbago ng coach na si Coach Roger and dun niya ako nakita.”   “Pagdating ko ng March (sa Ateneo) wala na akong way para maka-recruit pa. Ang nangyari yung tatlo accepted na kaagad. Si Gretchen tinanong ko sabi ko, ‘ano ba ang laro mo?’ Sabi niya the usual panggitna, tres,” Gorayeb recalled. “So sinubukan ko pero ang laro niya tres hindi quick. Siya panggitna pero hindi quicker na gusto ko saka yung height niya (maliit). Kaya lang si Gretchen takbo ng takbo, mahilig magtatakbo so sabi ko sige pwede na yan. Wala namang player na during that time. So kinuha ko si Gretchen.” Gorayeb just needed just one more. “Ngayon nagkaroon ng STCAA (Southern Tagalog Calabarzon athletic association) eh kulang pa ako ng isa, wala akong panggitna. Ang gitna ko during that time si Bea lang tapos si Gretchen so wala akong pamalit. So naisipan ko may nakita ako sa STCAA,” he said. He spotted a lanky player from Canossa Academy-Lipa, Aillysse Nacachi. “Sabi ko kay Sir Tony pagtyagaan ko na lang ito kahit hindi naman kalakasan at wala naman na rin akong choice na makapili kasi rush ang pagdating ko dyan. Nakiusap lang sila sa akin na magbuo ako ng team kasi si Ronald nag-resign,” said Gorayeb. Another freshman could’ve had ended up with Ateneo, Hope’s libero Melissa Gohing. But a few obstacles prevented her from fulfilling her promise to join Ferrer in Ateneo. She instead chose to join the ladies in green and white in Taft.    SOMETHING PROMISING December 7, 2008. Far Eastern University Gym. Excitement filled the air. Fans, mostly volleyball purists and some who just came to support their classmates or were just curious to see a new spectacle after the basketball season ended, slowly settled in their seats for the women’s division’s second game. It was Adamson University, the previous year’s runner-up, which just visited the turf of their arch nemesis and defending champion FEU, which was led by that era’s finest and most popular volleybelle Rachel Anne Daquis. Fans wanted to see if the Lady Falcons still had the same firepower they had the previous season with the loss of top setter Janet Serafica and power hitter Sang Laguilles. A rookie-laden Ateneo squad should be easy pickings with Angela Benting, rookie Pau Soriano and libero Lizlee Anne Gata in the roster. Besides the Lady Falcons got the Lady Eagles’ number. Or so they thought. “Naalala ko nu’ng time namin sinasabi sa amin ng seniors namin na, ‘Hay naku ang lakas ng Adamson, never kami nanalo dyan,’” Cainglet, now happily married to Taguig mayor Lino Cayetano and with three beautiful children, recalled.  But the Lady Eagles stunned Adamson in the opening set. The Lady Falcons took the next two frames. Ateneo stole the fourth.  “Ako naalala ko ano eh, parang alam namin na lahat kasi kami palaban. Nasa amin yun. Tapos binigyan kaming lahat ng chance to be in the first six so parang dream come true,” said Ho, now an ABS-CBN host. “Naalala ko rin na palaban kaming lahat kumbaga nothing to lose eh so ang ano namin, sumasabay kami sa laro and nu’ng nakita na namin na ‘Ay kaya pala natin ‘to guys. Kaya pala naming lumaban.’” Still, Adamson had the upper hand in experience. The Lady Falcons, used to pressure and were steady at crunch time, outlasted Ateneo.           The young Katipunan-based squad fell short, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, 25-15, 8-15. But for the Fab 5, it was a loss that felt like a resounding victory. “Parang sobrang natutuwa kami and everybody in the crowd, kaya siguro kami natawag na Fab 5 kasi rookies kami pero kahit ganoon palaban kami,” said Ho. “Saka close game. Five sets yun.” However, it was the first of five five-set matches that Ateneo will drop that season including one in the second round against the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University. “Pero ang problema di kami nananalo ng five sets. Parang ilan lang ang naipanalo namin na ganoon. Feeling ko na-overwhelm kami na ‘Uy nananalo tayo.’ May ganoong disbelief ng konti pero alam namin na may ibubuga kami,” said Ho. “Definitely, our rookie season was full of five-set matches. It was tough, we felt like we were so close, but still so far away. At some point, it gave us frustration also. We just couldn't figure out that time what is it that's still lacking because we couldn't win the five-set matches,” according to Nacachi. “People said, it was because the team was still so inexperienced. We still didn't have the tenacity unlike of those more matured teams. But we didn't take it as bad, it was a learning experience for us all at the end. We had to learn how to develop that finishing will to be able to win games like that in the future.” The Fab 5 finished their rookie season with a 6-8 slate at fifth spot.   ‘MAY MEDAL NA TAYO’ Gorayeb remembered on their second year the look on Pascual’s face in their last elimination game match against Adamson. Already wrapping up their first win over the Lady Falcons, Pascual was giddy. “Natatawa nga ako dyan kay Bea kasi papanalo na kami nu’n tapos sumesenyas na siya ng tres. Sabi ko, ‘Hoy anong ginagawa mo?’ Yun pala sobrang saya na niya kasi for the first time in 30 years magkaka-medal na sila,” he said. It was the most important match of the season for the Lady Eagles. With the Fab 5 already in their sophomore year, Ateneo was already making great strides. The Lady Eagles closed that season’s elims with five straight wins capped off with a victory over Adamson. Ateneo posted a 10-4 win-loss mark to enter the Final Four legitimately. “Ang nangyari kasi nu’ng time nila Charo (Soriano) kaya sila nakapasok sa semis kasi may nag-squeal na si (Jacq) Alarca di pala naka-enroll nu’n kaya na-forfeit mga laro ng La Salle,” said Gorayeb. The Fab 5 proved that they were not just a bunch of much-hyped up pretty faces. They backed it up with their skills on court. It didn’t matter that Ateneo were swept by eventual champion University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four.      But the podium finish of Season 72 was short-lived. Adamson got its revenge in the last game of Season 73 elims, bumping off the Lady Eagles for a podium finish. The loss put Ateneo in a collision course with the twice-to-beat DLSU, who could’ve completed an elims sweep if not only for a forfeited match against University of the East after UAAP found out that Carmela Garbin and Clarisse Yeung participated in a ‘ligang labas’ while the season was onoing, in the Final Four. Ateneo gave the Lady Spikers a scare before succumbing in another heartbreaking five-set match. The Lady Eagles finished fourth but that lone semis game gave Ateneo and its maturing Fab 5 enough experience to dream for something big – A ticket into the Finals.      ‘HINOG NA KAYO’ The first three years saw the gradual improvement for Ateneo. But Season 74 proved to be the turning point for the Fab 5. A fresh new recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school, who just completed a year of residency, came into picture and with the Fab 5 armed with years of experience, the Lady Eagles’ fate will forever be changed. Alyssa Valdez, a highly recruited open spiker just like Gervacio, Cainglet-Cayetano and Ferrer years back, gave renewed excitement for the Ateneo faithful. “Alyssa's joining with Ateneo was a great turning point for us. We needed as much support we can get, and Alyssa's entrance to the team was a great boost to the team's morale,” said Nacachi. “The girl is a powerhouse and we felt like with her presence, the team finally became solid.” “We were able to play around with the positions and the rotations, since we had different versatile open players who can also greatly play other roles,” she added. “We were also able to formulate a lot of plays and attacks because Alyssa can generally do all kinds; open, running, quick, name it all. She gave the team the power and the versatility that we previously lacked from the past seasons.” Social media was just gaining traction then but the Lady Eagles were already on the radar of volleyball purists through online forums. For the first time, Ateneo was considered a legitimate contender.   The Fab 5 proved it by winning 11 games in the elimination round, losing only to UST once and dropping two against the Lady Spikers. Valdez’s arrival gave Ferrer an even broader option on offense. It eased the scoring load off the shoulders of Cainglet and Gervacio, who was then moved to an opposite position. “I guess sakto lang din yung dating niya because by that time Kara Acevedo graduated so someone had to fill in her spot so coach Roger decided for me to move to utility or opposite,” said Gervacio. “And then sakto Alyssa naman could fill in the spot na other open spiker.” “So timing din na we had all the pieces put together at the right time,” she added. With a good performance in the elims despite missing a legit middle in Bea Pascual and the entry of Aerieal Patnongon barred by academic problems, Ateneo finished second and for the first-time was armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles faced an experienced Tigresses side in the last stepladder semis stage. UST just came from a hard-fought four-set do-or-die match against FEU and were banking on their four-set win over Ateneo in the second round to force another sudden death. Ateneo’s date with destiny was sealed with a four-set win over the Tigresses, who then bid goodbye to Maika Ortiz and Judy Anne Caballejo. “Pinu-push na rin kami ni Coach Roger noon eh, ‘Hinog na kayo ngayon. Kasi dalawang taon na lang, kailangan makapasok na kayo sa Finals,’” said Ho. “Somehow senior na rin kami,” added Cainglet.  “Season 74 was really the target season for us to be in the finals and target even to win the championship,” according to Nacachi. “During this time, we were already thinking we could not afford to not go in the finals.” “So it was with our mindset and our level of commitment that we were able to finally reach our goal of reaching the finals,” she added. “We had enough experience that time already, and it was really time for us to show the level of game maturity the team had obtained from the past seasons.” But then they had to face an unbeaten team. Unscathed in 14 games, De La Salle University was poised to complete a perfect season. The Lady Eagles spoiled it. Ferrer outplayed DLSU setter Mika Esperanza, 57-42, in excellent sets as Ateneo handed the Lady Spikers its first loss after 25 straight victories in a come-from-behind 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, Finals opener win. Witnessed by 3,002 spectators inside the then The Arena in San Juan, all of the Fab 5 produced points. Cainglet had 19 behind Valdez’s 24, Gervacio scored 12, Ho had 10, Nacachi finished with five while Ferrer had one. Gorayeb made a big gambit and it worked. “Dahil sa wala kong panggitna, yung laro namin ng La Salle, ginawa kong quicker si Alyssa. Kasi si Alyssa nakakapalo. Nagulat si Ramil (de Jesus) dun.” It was a big win. A huge upset. Unfortunately, Ateneo needed to win two more.  DLSU held a thrice-to-beat advantage.   THAT SWAG After Ateneo made a miracle in Game One, fans began to feel a new rivalry born. The attendance spiked. From just 3,000 spectators, the gate attendance more than doubled its size. The interest was there. Fans of traditional powers began to notice the Lady Eagles as a rising team. For the first time, a squad with no previous championship experience except for a title during the Marcos era in a different collegiate league, made a giant jolt. Everybody wanted to see what these girls would do next.    The Lady Eagles, still high on adrenaline after their Game 1 upset, took the opening set in Game 2. But just like in their opener, a well-experienced DLSU squad adjusted to take the next three frames to move a step closer to a repeat crown. With then Rookie of the Year Ara Galang, Season Most Valuable Player Aby Marano, an intimidating Michele Gumabao and a very efficient Finals MVP Cha Cruz teaming up for the kill, the Lady Spikers ripped Ateneo apart in Game 3 in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13. “Sabi nga ni Dzi na nadyan na lahat eh. So I guess noong Season 74 nandoon na pero may kulang pa rin,” said Ho. “I guess we we’re able to make it to the Finals pero wala pa kaming championship experience.” Ferrer agreed. "Siguro ang kulang yung championship experience kasi nasa La Salle na ‘yun eh. Ilang years na silang nagpa-finals, nag-champion and for Ateneo doon pa lang namin sinimulan," said the three-time Best Setter. Lacking championship experience is one thing, but Ateneo during that time wasn’t ready for DLSU’s most feared weapon: the Lady Spikers’ swag.  “They have that swag,” said Gervacio. “Everyone knows about it naman. It’s really Coach Ramil’s style talaga kasi as I remember when we were first year, four out of six of the players inside the court were rookies and even if we go against the powerhouses UST, FEU, Adamson, hindi sila yung nakikita nyo na kapag championship na rivalry, na swag, angas, stare down. Pero La Salle talaga kahit sino ang kalaban nila they’ll bring that attitude inside the court.” That Finals series cemented a new rivalry that will become one of the most celebrated in the sport. “I think it also helped that Ateneo-La Salle basketball didn’t face also,” said Gervacio. “Siyempre nandoon ang hunger for the rivalry eh and timely din na its been Ateneo-La Salle na rin sa volleyball.”   CLOSING A CHAPTER The Fab 5 were now in their fifth and last year. They wanted to leave a winning legacy. The pieces were already there. Gorayeb had at his disposal five seniors, a rising star in Valdez, a sophomore middle in Amy Ahomiro, a versatile Ella De Jesus, a steady libero in Denden Lazaro and a new kind of weapon – a massive crowd that can turn any venue into a sea of blue.              As expected, the second installment of the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry was set into place. Both sweeping their semis opponents. The Lady Spikers crushed National University while the Lady Eagles shot down Adamson. Game One was a shocker. DLSU heading into the Finals are on a 14-game roll but were stunned in the first two sets with Ateneo stepping on the gas. But a string of miscues, mostly from the service line, did the Lady Eagles in as they allowed the Lady Spikers to force a decider. DLSU, smelling blood, punished Ateneo to eke out a 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, victory inside the Big Dome witnesses by 17,342-strong gate attendance. Then the series transferred to a newly-built, state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena that drew a crowd of 18,799. The first two frames were frustrating for the Lady Eagles.   Ateneo came back to life in the third set to gain a 9-5 lead. But DLSU easily erased it with Ateneo crumbling under pressure. The Lady Spikers were on an onslaught. Sophomore Galang pushed DLSU at matchpoint with a cold-blooded ace that went in a few inches from the baseline. The score, 24-16. It was a tense moment for the Fab 5. A long rally ensued in the next play. Gervacio, with all her might pounded a kill. Her hand making a great contact on the ball off Ferrer’s backset.     Smack! The ball ricocheted off the hands of DLSU’s Wensh Tiu before falling on the same landing area of Gervacio, who tried to dive for a dig together with Lazaro. DLSU swept Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. Game over.          “Kahit hindi kami nanalo alam naming ibinigay namin ang lahat namin, all-out talaga kaya wala kaming pagsisisi,” said Ho. It was the end of the Fab 5 era, but they left more than what any of them could have imagined. "I remember so many people or fans telling me that they started really watching UAAP Volleyball because of our batch. And that is really touching and fulfilling to know. Knowing that you were able to leave an impact like that to people. We were not able to bring even a single championship to our school, Ateneo, but we were able to touch a lot of people's hearts despite that," Nacachi shared. The Fab 5 closed a colorful chapter of Ateneo volleyball in tears. They were there during the Lady Eagles’ birth pains. They labored. They shed tears, blood and sweat. They laid the foundation for something big. The Fab 5 planted the seeds that would eventually bear fruit and would change the course of Ateneo women’s volleyball program forever. Glory didn’t happen during their time. It started in theirs.    Amidst the roar of the crowd, the falling confetti, banging of drums and the echoing chant of ‘Animo La Salle’ from the sea of green, the Fab 5 hugged each other tight. They found comfort in each other. It was their time to say goodbye. For those who remained – Valdez, Lazaro, Ahomiro, De Jesus – the defeat added fuel to their already blazing desire to bring glory for the blue and white. They were the next in line, heirs to an unfinished business. WATCH: FAB 5 Reunion Part 1 and Part 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

Maasin City candle makers return SAP subsidy

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte – A couple who earn their living by making and selling candles in this city, returned their Social Amelioration Program cash subsidy on Thursday after they unexpectedly received P5,000 from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through a money remittance service. The woman and her husband, surnamed Didal, are living […] The post Maasin City candle makers return SAP subsidy appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 7th, 2020

Christopher de Leon diagnosed with COVID-19

Veteran actor and Love Thy Woman star Christopher de Leon has tested positive for COVID-19 making him the first local actor to be infected with the virus......»»

Category: entertainmentSource:  thestandardRelated NewsMar 17th, 2020

Diplomat from Philippines first known coronavirus case at U.N. in New York

A female diplomat from the Philippines mission to the United Nations tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, according to a note sent to U.N. missions, making the woman the first known case at th.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsMar 14th, 2020

It All Started with One “Jocelyn”

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program has millions of faces with different stories. But among them, there are always those who stand out. In Barangay Pajo, Lapu-Lapu City, one model woman spread her wings to go on a journey of a fulfilling and empowering life. Jocelyn L. Manacap, 44, of Barangay Pajo, is now making a mark […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsFeb 28th, 2020

Serena Williams aces AP Female Athlete of the Decade honors

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Serena Williams dominated the decade, on the court and in conversation. There were, to begin with, the dozen Grand Slam single titles — no other woman had more than three over the past 10 seasons — and the 3 1/2 years in a row at No. 1 in the WTA rankings. And then there was the celebrity status that transcended tennis, making everything she did and said newsworthy, whether it was the triumphs and trophies and fashion statements or the disputes with tournament officials, the magazine covers or the Super Bowl ad with a message about women's power, the birth of her daughter or the health scare that followed. Still winning matches and reaching Grand Slam finals into her late 30s, still mattering as much as ever, Williams was selected by The Associated Press as the Female Athlete of the Decade on Saturday after a vote by AP member sports editors and AP beat writers. The AP Male Athlete of the Decade will be announced Sunday. “When the history books are written, it could be that the great Serena Williams is the greatest athlete of all time. ... I like to call it the ‘Serena Superpowers’ — that champion's mindset. Irrespective of the adversity and the odds that are facing her, she always believes in herself,” said Stacey Allaster, CEO of the WTA from 2009-15 and now chief executive for professional tennis at the U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open. “Whether it was health issues; coming back; having a child; almost dying from that — she has endured it all and she is still in championship form,” Allaster said. “Her records speak for themselves.” Gymnast Simone Biles, the 2019 AP Female Athlete of the Year, finished second to Williams in voting for the decade honor, followed by swimmer Katie Ledecky. Two ski racers were next, with Lindsey Vonn finishing fourth and Mikaela Shiffrin fifth. Three of Williams' five AP Female Athlete of the Year awards came during the last decade, in 2013, 2015 and 2018. She also won in 2002 and 2009. “She's been my idol growing up,” Biles said. “She's remained humble. She's stayed true to herself and her character and I think that's really neat about an athlete,” Biles said. “Once you start winning, some get cocky, but she's stayed true to herself, win or lose.” It's the defeats that seem to drive Williams, helping propel her to heights rarely reached by any athlete in any sport. “Whenever I lose, I get more determined, and it gives me something more to work toward,” Williams said in a 2013 interview with the AP. “I don't get complacent, and I realize I need to work harder and I need to do better and I want to do better — or I wouldn't be playing the game.” With a best-in-the-game serve, powerful groundstrokes and relentless court coverage, she has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, more than anyone else in her sport's professional era, which began in 1968. More than half came from 2010-19: four at Wimbledon, three apiece at the U.S. Open and Australian Open, two at the French Open. That includes a run of four in a row from the U.S. Open in 2014 through Wimbledon in 2015, her second self-styled “Serena Slam.” Williams also was the runner-up another seven times at major tournaments over the past decade, including four of the seven she's entered since returning to the tour after having a baby in 2017. In all, she made the final at 19 of the 33 majors she entered during the decade, a nearly 58% rate. The decade began inauspiciously in 2010, when Williams cut her feet on broken glass at a restaurant and was hospitalized with blood clots in her lungs. Among her many accomplishments, though: — reaching at least one Slam final every year, a streak that dates to 2007; — winning gold medals in singles and doubles (with her sister, Venus) at the 2012 Olympics; — becoming the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam singles trophy in the professional era; — becoming the oldest No. 1 in WTA history and equaling Steffi Graf's record for most consecutive weeks atop the rankings; — leading the tour with 37 singles titles, 11 more than anyone else in the decade. The day she won Wimbledon in 2016, Williams discussed the way she constantly measures herself. “I definitely feel like when I lose, I don't feel as good about myself," she said. “But then I have to, like, remind myself that: ‘You are Serena Williams!’ You know? Like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Williams continued with a laugh. “And it's those moments that I have to just, like, come off and be like, ‘Serena, do you know what you’ve done? Who you are? What you continue to do, not only in tennis (but also) off the court? Like, you're awesome.'”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2019

First female UN refugee chief dies at 92

Tokyo, Japan — Japan’s Sadako Ogata, the first woman appointed to head the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR, has died at the age of 92, Japan’s foreign aid agency said Tuesday. Ogata was widely respected for her efforts to help refugees and internally displaced people around the world and emphasised making visits to conflict zones during […] The post First female UN refugee chief dies at 92 appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 29th, 2019

Just 15, Coco Gauff tops Ostapenko for 1st WTA singles title

LINZ, Austria (AP) — Coco Gauff is still just 15. She also is already the owner of a WTA singles title. The American beat 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 in the final of the Upper Austria Ladies tournament Sunday, making Gauff the youngest winner of a singles trophy on the WTA tour since 2004. "This is a special moment for me," Gauff said. And Gauff managed to do it after losing in the last round of qualifying, then moving into the main draw as a "lucky loser" when another player withdrew from the field. "I'm still overwhelmed and shocked," Gauff said, according to the WTA's website. "I guess it's crazy to say it's my first WTA title. This was definitely not on the calendar at the beginning of the year, because I didn't think I'd have a chance to get in, and now I'm the champion, so it's crazy." This week's run, which including a victory over Kiki Bertens for her initial top-10 win, was the latest impressive performance for Gauff, who is now expected to rise inside the top 75 when the new WTA rankings are released Monday. She was just 313th when Wimbledon began on July 1. That's where she really burst onto the scene as the youngest qualifier in tournament history, then beat five-time champion Venus Williams along the way to making it all the way to the fourth round. Gauff claimed her first WTA doubles title at Washington in August, pairing with Caty McNally, before getting to the third round in singles at the U.S. Open. Gauff is now the youngest woman to win a WTA singles championship since Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic earned two by the age of 15 years, 5 months in 2004. Ostapenko, who is 22, has been ranked as high as No. 5 and currently is No. 72. She has won two tour-level titles, the first coming at Roland Garros 2½ years ago......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 14th, 2019

Simone Biles wins 5th all-around title at gymnastics worlds

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — There was only one way for Simone Biles to finish off yet another dominant world championship performance. She dropped the mic. Biles marked her fifth all-around world title by ending her floor routine with a mic-drop gesture — a nod to her social-media following. Biles said the idea came from Twitter, and it was certainly fitting on a day when no rival came close. "It wasn't my best routine but we just thought it would be fun," she said. It may not have been her best, but the routine still earned her the highest floor score of the day. One of the few blemishes was skidding out of bounds on the landing of a triple-double, a skill no other female gymnast performs. Biles' fifth world all-around title, two more than any other female gymnast has ever managed, was won by a full 2.1 points. The margin of victory was bigger than any of her four previous victories at worlds and matched her 2016 Olympic win. With another Olympic Games less than a year away, Biles feels on top of the world. "I feel like right now actually I'm pretty confident in my gymnastics and myself and the performances I put out there, so I feel like I'm probably more confident going in today than I was at the Olympics," she said. Biles' score of 58.999 was far out of reach for China's Tang Xijing, a late stand-in for a teammate who ended up in second after other medal contenders stumbled. Angelina Melnikova of Russia was third on 56.399. Biles now has a total 22 world championship medals across all events, the most by any woman and one shy of Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo's men's record. Biles' victory makes it seven wins in a row for the United States in the women's all-around, matching the Soviet Union's record streak at world championships in the 1970s and 1980s. Tang wasn't even meant to be competing Thursday but became China's first all-around medalist in eight years. She'd qualified third-best of China's gymnasts, with only two per country allowed in the final. However, Tang was drafted in to replace teammate Liu Tingting, who fell on two routines in Tuesday's team final. Tang said she didn't know she was contending for a medal until after finishing her final routine. "I hoped to do what I'm like in training, and didn't really think too much about the results," she said through a translator. "I didn't even watch the results myself, so it was really surprising." Bronze medalist Melnikova said she was "really happy" with making the podium after missing out last year by 0.034 points. It was her first medal in an individual event after team silver at the 2016 Olympics and the last two world championships. Biles' U.S. teammate Sunisa Lee placed second in qualifying, but her hopes of a medal were dashed when she came off the uneven bars. She finished eighth. "I feel like I kind of let the nerves get to me a little bit, but it's all part of the learning experience," Lee said. "There's going to be a lot more meets to come before the Olympics, so hopefully I can kind of get myself back together for that." France's Melanie de Jesus dos Santos had qualified third-best but fell twice on uneven bars and placed 20th. Ellie Black of Canada was on crutches after a painful landing on the vault, and the 2017 all-around silver medalist faces a race to recover for Saturday's vault and Sunday's beam finals. Biles has won the all-around title at every world championships she's competed in, starting in 2013. She skipped the 2017 season, when Morgan Hurd won the gold. In a sign of the U.S. team's depth, Hurd wasn't named to the team for this year's worlds despite also winning bronze last year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 11th, 2019

Valdez banners SEA Games women’s volleyball roster

Alyssa Valdez is set to make her third straight Southeast Asian Games stint as she banners the Philippine national women’s volleyball team in the biennial meet that the country will host next month. The power-hitter and crowd-drawer will carry the nation’s pride alongside a good mix of new and returning players with the mission of ending a 14-year podium drought. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. bared the lineup Wednesday. Aside from Valdez, skipper Aby Marano, setter Rhea Dimaculangan, who skipped last year's Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games,  and Jovelyn Gonzaga are also suiting up for the tricolors for the third time since the country’s return in the regional sports meet in 2015 in Singapore. The Philippines’ last podium finish was back in 2005 Manila edition when the Filipinas led by Tina Salak and Ging Balse finished third. Also making it to the 14-woman roster of head coach Shaq delos Santos are setter Jia Morado, middle blockers Mika Reyes, Majoy Baron, who won back-to-back Best Middle Blockers in the ASEAN Grand Prix, Maddie Madayag, wingers Ces Molina, Eya Laure, Mylene Paat and Fil-American Kalei Mau and liberos Dawn Macandili, the ASEAN GP second leg Best Libero, and Kath Arado. Cut from the team are middle Roselyn Doria, setter Jasmin Nabor and open spiker Grethcel Soltones, who all played in the ASEAN GP second leg last weekend in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.   Action in the volleyball competition will begin on Nov. 28 at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.     ---          Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 9th, 2019

Leonard and George quickly blending in with Clippers

By Beth Harris, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have already passed the chemistry test with the Los Angeles Clippers. The two superstars have been quick to integrate themselves with their new team and the result is an easy, teasing camaraderie. Whether it’s enough to advance the once beleaguered franchise past the second round of the playoffs for the first time — let alone win an NBA championship — remains to be seen. But clearly these guys are already having fun. There was a fishing trip and a paintball outing — yep, Patrick Beverley was so competitive he splattered his own teammates — that made early impressions in a season the Clippers hope will be their most memorable yet. “If we maintain that, we’re going to get through anything,” George said Sunday (Monday, PHL time) at the team’s media day. Leonard and George may be the biggest fish on the roster, but neither caught the largest when several of the Clippers took to the water. That honor belonged to a woman on the boat. And what happened to their fish shown off on social media? “Like anybody else would do,” Leonard replied. “Have someone else fillet it, cook it, and eat it.” But he and George don’t expect to do all the heavy lifting this season. “Everybody on the same page,” George said of the collective mindset, “and we go out as one.” Leonard led Toronto to its first NBA title last season, and he ticked off the characteristics of a championship team: high character, sacrifice and will to win. “Go out there as one unit trying to accomplish that one goal,” he said. “It’s about enjoying the journey and not getting ahead of yourself. You also have to stay healthy as well.” The upcoming season already feels different to Leonard. He’s past the right quad injury from 2017-18 that hastened his departure from San Antonio and subsequent trade to the Raptors. “This year I’m feeling way better than I was at the start of last season,” he said, adding there’s no plan yet for his load management. It’s possible the Clippers will be without George for their season opener Oct. 22 (Oct. 23, PHL time) against LeBron James and the Lakers. He’s still rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery that followed an injury-plagued ending to his time in Oklahoma City. George will be with the team at training camp in Hawaii starting Monday, but won’t participate in contact. Coach Doc Rivers was at the team’s practice facility Sunday (Monday, PHL time), but he didn’t speak to the media. Other things to know about the Clippers: DEFENSE Led by Beverley, the Clippers brought a ferocious attitude on defense last season. His prediction with Leonard and George on the floor? “That scrappiness attitude, but on steroids,” Beverley said. That being said, Beverley is making it a goal to cut down on his technical fouls. Count Lou Williams as a skeptic. “I don’t know if there’s a way to tell Pat Beverley to chill out,” he said. COMING HOME Leonard and George are both glad to be back home. Leonard is from Riverside and George is from the high desert city of Palmdale, located north of Los Angeles. “The fact that I’m unpacking instead of packing at this time is a surreal moment,” George said. Leonard has already reached out to local schools with a large-scale donation of backpacks. Despite his low-key reputation, Leonard wants to be visible in the community and “for them to see me, for them to shake my hand.” THE YOUNG GUYS Leonard and George have been generous in sharing their knowledge with the younger Clippers, including Landry Shamet and Jerome Robinson. Even with George sidelined early, he’s still an influence. “Sometimes guys don’t have to do anything,” Rodney McGruder said. “It’s just their presence.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2019

Gauff, 15, loses to 2018 champ Osaka at US Open

NEW YORK (AP) — American teenager Coco Gauff's second Grand Slam tournament has ended with a 6-3, 6-0 loss to defending champion Naomi Osaka in the third round of the U.S. Open. The 15-year-old Gauff has generated all sorts of attention already by making it to the second week at Wimbledon in July and becoming the youngest woman to win two matches at Flushing Meadows since 1996. But in this much-hyped match under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium against the top-seeded Osaka, Gauff often looked exactly like what she still is: an immensely talented player who is still learning her way at tennis' top level. She served at up to 119 mph but also double-faulted seven times. She overcame a slow start to get within 4-3 in the opening set but also then lost the last eight games. Osaka's advantages in age — she's 21 — and experience — she is a two-time major champion — played a role. As did her on-target power, which resulted in a 24-8 edge in winners......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 1st, 2019

Holly Holm aims for another shocking win vs Nunes at UFC 239

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LAS VEGAS (AP) — Holly Holm didn't fight in a mixed martial arts cage until she was already a 29-year-old boxing champion of three weight classes. She had both a head start and a huge deficit in her quest to master a second sport in her athletic midlife. Even eight years later, Holm is aware of the unique challenges of her chosen path. She knows she'll probably never face a boxer as good as her in the cage, but she also knows she might never catch up to some of her younger opponents in grappling, jiu-jitsu or the myriad intricacies of the transitions between disciplines. So instead of setting a mundane goal to be the greatest fighter in MMA history, Holm looks at her second career as a chance to do as many unique things as possible. "I always want to do something that hasn't been done before," Holm said Thursday while preparing for her showdown with bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 239 on Saturday night. "No female in the UFC has won the belt, lost it and then come back to get it again," she said. "That's something I can do this week. This is something for my legacy. I want to win no matter what, but I love to have a challenge in front of me like that." Holm (12-4) already had one of the greatest nights in MMA history. She knows her career is likely to be defined by her world-shocking victory over Ronda Rousey in November 2015, making her a UFC champion in her 10th pro fight and transforming her into an international celebrity. Although she lost the bantamweight title in her next bout, her place in the sport was already secure. A victory over Nunes (17-4), arguably the most talented and accomplished woman in MMA history, would be even more impressive than that win over Rousey, whose inadequacies were exposed again by Nunes a year later. But Holm points out an interesting curve in this path: The world was shocked when Holm beat Rousey senseless, but the world now believes Holm can do anything, even after losing four of her past six fights. That's a different kind of expectation, and she is doing her best to bear up under it. "I was the underdog that shocked everybody before," Holm said with a laugh. "But now there's the pressure from having that reputation as somebody who can shock you as an underdog." Holm meets Nunes in the penultimate bout of a stacked card at T-Mobile Arena for the UFC's traditional International Fight Week pay-per-view show. Jon Jones, Holm's teammate in Albuquerque, faces Brazil's Thiago Santos in the main event of a show also featuring veteran stars Luke Rockhold, Jorge Masvidal, Ben Askren, Diego Sanchez, Michael Chiesa, Gilbert Melendez and Claudia Gadelha. Holm and Jones often work out at the same time at Jackson Wink MMA Academy, and Holm pays attention to her tremendously talented, sometimes self-sabotaging co-worker. Even at 37, Holm is still eager to learn new ways to improve. "Jon will come in and spar, but then he'll take somebody aside and just drill one move, one technique over and over and over again," Holm said. "His focus and endurance is inspiring. He can do that for hours, and I've tried to have the same focus." Nunes has held the bantamweight title for three years since she took it from Miesha Tate, who had taken it from Holm. Nunes added the 145-pound featherweight belt last December with her sensational 51-second battering of long-reigning champ Cris "Cyborg" Justino, who beat Holm by decision in December 2017. Holm's loss to Cyborg was her fourth in five fights, but she rebounded with a win last year. Holm is talented enough and famous enough to get this title shot despite her recent setbacks in bouts mostly decided by narrow margins. "I'm a completely different fighter today," Holm said of her progress since beating Rousey. "I've always been on a fast track in this sport. I've had great coaches that are helping me catch up since I left boxing. It's a different feeling now when I go out there." Nunes is a solid favorite in their bout, but the numbers mean nothing to Holm or her fans. Holm is eager to test Nunes' formidable boxing skills — and if she gets another historic knockout and upset victory, Holm will add it to her unique list of accomplishments in this singular fighting life. "It's the high that gets you by," Holm said. "Wanting a victory is like a drug. It keeps you going.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 5th, 2019

Mordido rules Asian Jrs chess

Kylen Joy Mordido is hoping to follow the footsteps of Janelle Mae Frayna as the country’s next Woman Grandmaster. She is slowly but surely getting there......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2019

Hunt tells Browns, You can trust me, after violent past

By Tom Withers, Associated Press BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Once he found the courage, Kareem Hunt watched the infamous video of him shoving a woman and then kicking her while she was on the ground. Like millions of others, he was disturbed. "I was like, 'Wow, it's pretty bad. That's not me,'" he said, recalling his reaction. "I didn't really watch the video for a long, long time." Hunt swears he's since changed. Given a second chance by his hometown team and the NFL, Hunt spoke Wednesday for the first time since being signed in February by the Browns, who are hoping the 23-year-old has learned from his mistakes and can outrun his violent past. It's been an embarrassing and humbling five months for Hunt, released in December by Kansas City just days after a surveillance video showed him physically abusing a woman during an argument in a Cleveland hotel hallway in February 2018. He wasn't forthcoming to the Chiefs about what transpired and paid the price. But Browns general manager John Dorsey, who drafted him in 2017 while GM with the Chiefs, decided Hunt deserved a shot at redemption. Hunt said he's determined to make the most of it. "I'm just taking it very seriously," he said. "Like day by day, I'm just making the best decisions at the time and place. And doing everything I can and prevent something like that from happening again." Hunt said he's promised Dorsey his violent days are over. "I told him, 'You can trust me.' I've got to earn his trust, and I've got to earn everybody's trust in the whole organization," he said. "I'm not willing to mess that up." Hunt must serve an eight-game league suspension for "physical altercations" before he can play. For now, he's allowed to practice with his teammates during the Browns' offseason training activities, and his time on the field is providing a sanctuary and a place to begin making amends. While he's remorseful about his past, Hunt knows only his actions going forward will help him earn back trust. He's keeping a close circle of friends and working in the community by speaking to high school students about making smarter decisions. "It's very meaningful for them and for me," he said, "just knowing that I can help them, and talk to these kids about just life. A lot of them have dreams to play football and stuff like that, too, and just giving them positive lift-up. Just always believing in themselves." Hunt said part of his motivation for speaking was because he didn't have the same opportunity. "I didn't really have anybody come talk to me when I was in high school," he said. "Somebody to look up to and explain that, 'You know, nobody's perfect and you gotta learn from your mistakes and don't make the same mistakes.'" Hunt has been undergoing weekly counseling to help control his behavior. He denied being treated for an alcohol dependency. "Not so much alcohol, but it was just in there a little bit," he said. "I pretty much just focused on making myself the better person and talking to them about how to control my anger. I'm not an angry person at all, definitely not. I just felt like I had to make better decisions. I want to talk about ways to make better decisions in certain situations I'm put in." Hunt has not reached out to the victim in the video. If he did, he would ask for her forgiveness. "If I was to see her, I would apologize to her face," he said. "But I have not had the chance to do that. I don't know any ways of contacting her." As for the Chiefs, who felt betrayed by his dishonesty, Hunt insists he told them what he could before the video showed a different story. "I know I'm not going to mess this up again," he said. "And the Chiefs, I didn't really lie. I just told them what I knew at the time, and when the video came out, it was me seeing it too for the first time again, it was so long ago. They felt like I lied to them. That's all right." Hunt said a renewed Christian faith has helped him get through this period of his life. He plans to be baptized Sunday. "I'm looking forward, so I can feel reborn," he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2019

DOC VOLLEYBALL: Storming The (Blue) Keep

Winning twice in the elimination round to continue a 15-game streak, the Ateneo Lady Eagles couldn’t have asked for a better match-up in the Finals in the form of the UST Golden Tigresses as past encounters would easily sway towards a blue momentum. The top seed however went in for a surprise as the Sisi Rondina-led pack showed a whole different UST team from the eliminations and proved why her team was the best offensive team at the expense of the best defensive team for a crucial first game sweep. With a dominant three-set win over the Lady Eagles, the Golden Tigresses have breached the gates and are within reach of the throne. At this point, with momentum undoubtedly behind the Tigresses, it is quite interesting how the Lady Eagles will be able to hold their ground and last wall of defense and eventually mark a counter offensive from the inside should they wish to extend the series to a deciding championship match. Swift Claws One glaring difference between how UST played in the elimination round and the way they won Game 1 of the Finals series was the speed of their play. Despite being in the back seat for most of the elimination round, veteran setter Alina Bicar dug deep since the semifinals and has been the crucial factor in their win against the Lady Eagles even more so than the stellar dominance of Queen Tigress Sisi Rondina. Throughout her UAAP career, Bicar has been a fairly overlooked setter due to noticeable lapses in consistency, decision making and quality (height and speed) of sets. Perhaps one saving grace Bicar had prior to this season’s step-up since the semifinals would be how fast the ball is released from her hands. In Game 1 however, it was a more potent Bicar who was on display as her setting (even the bump sets at that) was noticeably faster and with better trajectory that enabled her spikers to play through the solid net defense of the Lady Eagles. Though still utilizing the combination plays in the middle that are more likely to get blocked by tall and anticipating middles such as Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag, Bicar’s decision-making was also a massive level up from how she played during the eliminations and the past seasons. Perhaps now that she has established a consistent shoot play to the left wing that proves problematic against the Atenean blockers, Bicar would find less reliance on combination plays that have less efficiency than a simple fast open to Rondina or Eya Laure. It is however an injustice to UST if credit won’t be given to the massive performance of their queen, Sisi Rondina. Just a quick look of her highlight reel is enough to tell the whole story of how she led the pack in decimating the Blue Defense be it up front or on the floor. Though expected to drop cherry bombs straight to the middle of the court to showcase her athleticism as seen throughout her career, Game 1 showed a Sisi Rondina who had long targets that proved to be a one-two punch for both the blockers and floor defenders of Ateneo. First, by going for long angle or line shots, Rondina ensures that she hits her maximum reach enough to work around the tall walls of the opponent. Second, by going for long targets, Rondina often landed her attacks on the perimeter of the blue court (a floor defense lapse exposed and exploited by rival Lady Spikers in their second round encounter). With Bicar’s fast sets, Rondina had more time and reach to work around the block and floor which proved too problematic for the Lady Eagles. Lastly, though it was a given that Rondina had the spotlight, the collective effort from Laure, Ysa Jimenez, KC Galdones and Caitlyn Viray was also a massive difference from the elimination round where UST has been branded as just a two-woman attacking team. Viray’s unorthodox set-up for a right pin attack despite being a middle and Galdones’ power from the middle earned crucial points for the team. Despite taking a backseat from her usual numbers, Eya Laure showed enough firepower to support Rondina a couple of which came from a low fast back play from Bicar which I’d like to see more of albeit pushed a little more to the right pin but with the same height and speed. Blunted Talons Right from the start of the match, the early assault of the Tigresses proved too much of a challenge for the Lady Eagles much like a dragon queen swooping over an army and decimating the wall of defense. UST clearly made prior work of how to circumvent the main asset of the Lady Eagles being their block by going for fast plays and long shots targeting unguarded zones such as high line and sharp angle. UST evading De Leon and Madayag’s defense set-up was already a big part of the equation as their offense proved successful in limiting the block points of the two middles to an unusual two and one kill blocks, respectively. It has been shown throughout the season that the main scoring output of the Lady Eagles are primarily the two middles and opposite Kat Tolentino. While there have been noticeable improvement from the second round towards the end of eliminations from both openers Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte, output from the left wing was sorely missing for the Lady Eagles for Game 1. A high output from transition could have been Ateneo’s saving grace as UST was successful in limiting them to just 17% in the passing department which is clearly not enough to active their main assets which are their middles. A combined effort of 16% efficiency by Samonte and Gaston (25% and 7% respectively) was clearly not enough to support Tolentino’s 28% efficiency to mount a counter offensive on the instances they had control of the first ball. In addition, it was noticeable how the Lady Eagles failed to capitalize with their block to hold UST at bay on a particular rotation in which only Rondina and Viray are up front and would attack from both pins without any benefit of a middle going for at least a decoy quick hit. With two relatively obvious spiker options, no quicker approaching, and no pipe or backrow attack tendencies, that specific rotation would have been the easiest for the Lady Eagles to earn points in succession. Moving forward, should the elimination top seed wish to force a Game Three, the main concern is obviously to ensure that Rondina can be neutralized. Sisi will definitely rack up the points, but by limiting her options in her attack angles, the Lady Eagles can have a relatively easier work with their defense. First option would be to slow down the setup of Bicar by serving her blind side. Should this option prove ineffective, the best possible option would be to serve long in the seam of zone 5 and 6 and target Rondina or Laure’s right side of their axis to keep them in the court as much as possible as they wind up for the approach. Doing so, their down the line shots would be a challenging option making it easier for Madayag and De Leon to block the sharp angle. Though Rondina is just one piece of the equation and much more can be expected of Laure, Jimenez, Viray, and Galdones in the upcoming match, ensuring that Bicar is hard pressed in setting up a fast play through well placed serves will be Ateneo’s best bet to force a decider match for the Season 81 throne.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 14th, 2019

Serena Williams set to return from injury at Italian Open

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Serena Williams is set to return from injury at the upcoming Italian Open. Tournament director Sergio Palmieri told The Associated Press on Friday that he spoke with Williams' agent and that Williams "has already reserved her rooms and should be here a few days early" for the May 13-19 event. Williams has not played since withdrawing from her third-round match at the Miami Open in March with a previously undisclosed left knee injury. She hasn't played in Rome since winning her fourth title at the clay-court event in 2016, when she beat Madison Keys in the final. Roger Federer's status, meanwhile, remains a question mark. Federer's announced schedule has him playing the Madrid Open next week as his only warmup for the French Open, which starts May 26. The 37-year-old Federer skipped the clay season the last two years. "Federer is entered to play, which is different from the last two years when he withdrew ahead of time," Palmieri said. "So the fact that he's entered means it's possible for him to play. It's impossible to predict, though. ... Knowing him, it's more probable that he'll come only if he's playing well." While he is a four-time runner-up, Federer has never won the Italian Open — making it one of the few significant trophies he hasn't claimed. "Playing three consecutive tournaments on clay at his age is complicated," Italian tennis federation president Angelo Binaghi said. "But I think it also depends on his results in Madrid." The only top men who have withdrawn from Rome are sixth-ranked Kevin Anderson and 16th-ranked Milos Raonic, who are both injured. The only top woman to pull out so far was three-time champion Maria Sharapova, who is recovering from a right shoulder injury. The Italian federation said 1999 champion Venus Williams and former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka received wild cards to the tournament according to the WTA rule for former top-20 players. Another wild card was given to Sara Errani. The men's wild cards are Matteo Berrettini, last week's Hungarian Open champion, and Andreas Seppi and Lorenzo Sonego......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2019

Venus focused on tennis, not age, in record 73rd Grand Slam

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — One could never accuse Venus Williams of being sensitive about her age. Not the way she keeps making self-deprecating jokes about it at the Australian Open. Case in point: Asked about the Australian great Margaret Court after her third-round win over China's Duan Yingying at Margaret Court Arena on Friday, Williams said she had a letter from the 24-time major winner hung on the wall in her room as a memento. 'It's a congratulations for me being the oldest person in the draw or something like that,' she dead-panned. The 36-year-old Williams fields more than her fair share of questions about her advanced age in the sport, how often she considers retirement, what keeps her motivated after more than two decades on the court. Indeed, she is appearing in her 73rd Grand Slam singles draw — a record for the Open era. And she is the oldest woman in the draw at Melbourne Park, though it should be noted that male players her age, such as Ivo Karlovic and Roger Federer, aren't continuously peppered with the same questions. But rather than show her annoyance, Williams smiles and patiently responds each time, sometimes with a joke. And she's made clear with her play this week that she's still a serious contender — she's reached the fourth round at the Australian Open for the 10th time in her career, and without dropping a set. Against Duan, a player who admitted she'd never seen the seven-time Grand Slam winner play, the 13th-seeded Williams only lost one game. 'Just like every player here, I have put in a ton of work,' Williams said earlier in the week. 'I'm not coming all the way to Australia for kicks and giggles. I'm here as a competitor.' Williams made clear Friday she doesn't want to get dragged into controversies, either. She declined to comment on a remark by a TV commentator during her second-round match when he described her as moving in and charging with what sounded like a 'gorilla' or 'guerrilla' effect. The commentator, Doug Adler, who maintains he said 'guerrilla' — as in, her choice of tactics — but apologized for his poor word choice, was dropped from ESPN's coverage for the rest of the tournament. 'All I can say is it's been a wonderful, wonderful career for me full of positives. That's what I focus on,' said Williams, who hasn't shied away from addressing issues ranging from racism to gender pay equity throughout her career. 'I pay attention and address situations that are noteworthy,' she added, when pressed on the subject. 'That's been my past record, clearly.' What Williams wants to talk about is her tennis. Especially as she continues to win at Melbourne Park, where she's reached the final just once in her career. Her next opponent is another player many years her junior, 26-year-old Mona Barthel, a No. 181-ranked qualifier from Germany. 'It's never enough,' Williams said. 'I've been in the fourth round before. I've tasted it before and it's always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarterfinals. That's what I'm going to go for.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Valdez assures LVPI she will attend national team tryouts

Former Ateneo de Manila Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez promised to join the tryouts set by the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc, for the national women’s team that will see action in the 29th Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games on August 19 to 31. LVPI vice president Peter Cayco said that Valdez told him Saturday that the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player will undergo the selection process just like other national squad aspirants. The Manila tryout is on January 28, 29 and 31 with legs in Cebu and Davao set next month. Each aspirant must complete the three-day tryout. The names of the players that will make the 20-woman pool will be announced on the last week of February. Valdez, a two-time UAAP champion who bannered the PHI team in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games, assured LVPI in a meeting with Cayco in the sports association’s office at Arellano-Taft before she flew to Thailand Sunday to join 3BB Nakornnont in the Thai League, that she will return home during the break to join any of the three tryouts. “Nakapag-usap kami noong Saturday ang sabi niya sa akin uuwi siya para sa tryouts,” Cayco said Tuesday during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Rizal Memorial Complex Media Center. Valdez will debut in the Thai League on January 29 making her unavailable for the Manila leg. She is expected to show up either in the Cebu or Davao leg.       National team head coach Francis Vicente, who discovered and molded Valdez into a star during her high school days as a University of Sto. Tomas player, pointed out that though Valdez is a cut above the rest with her volleyball skills, leadership and fan base she will still go under the scrutiny of the selection committee. “Alam naman natin na Alyssa Valdez is angat, sikat and sa akin din galing yan pero ayaw ko na kukunin ko na siya na, ‘O halika na rito wag ka na mag-tryout.’ Unfair naman ‘yun sa iba,” said Vicente. “Unfair naman yun kina Myla Pablo kina Grethcel Soltones e magaling din naman sila. Ayokong mabansagan na may kinikilingan. If she really wants to play in the national team kailangan niyang pumunta sa tryouts, no special treatment.”                             LVPI president Joey Romasanta commended the gesture of Valdez, who served as the country’s flag-bearer during the last SEA Games, saying that her willingness to join the tryouts during her break in the Thai League.          “’Yung sinabi ni Alyssa na uuwi siya rito to join the tryout for the national team is very commendable and a manifestation of her being a true athlete and her sincerest desire to serve the country via the national team,” said Roamsanta. “Ako, we are very hopeful that during the breaks in her (Thai League) schedule she will be able to join any of those tryouts.”       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles             .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Djokovic beats Murray to successfully defend Qatar title

SANDRA HARWITT, Associated Press br /> DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Novak Djokovic successfully defended his Qatar Open title by beating top-seeded Andy Murray 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the final on Saturday. The dramatic match showcased the best of men's tennis for 2 hours, 54 minutes. Djokovic needed four match points - three in the second set and one in the third - to prevail. He was also fortunate not to be defaulted for accidentally hitting a woman in the stands with a ball hit in anger. 'Best scenario I could ask for for beginning of the season,' Djokovic said. 'Playing all five matches in this tournament and then three hours against No. 1 of the world, (my) biggest rival, and winning in a thrilling marathon match is something that definitely can serve as a positive incentive for what's coming up in Australia. 'It's only the beginning of the season, so we had a little laugh at the net actually about it. We both felt like if every match we're going to play against each other is going to be this way this season, we're going to have a fun time.' Murray's loss ended his 28-match winning streak that dated to Sept. 18. Djokovic had three match points in the 10th game of the second set, but couldn't prevent Murray from making it 5-5 and eventually winning the second set. Murray finally capitalized on his fourth break point - second in that 10th game - with an inside out forehand winner. Despite going up 0-30, Murray wasn't able to come up with the same magic when Djokovic served for the match a second time at 5-4 in the third set. Murray also failed to take advantage of a break point in the sixth game of the set. 'Physically, it was a good test to start the year,' Murray said. 'My body feels all right just now, so that's positive. 'Still think there are things I can do better. I wasn't that clinical on break points this week, which maybe that comes with playing a few more matches.' Djokovic's frustration got the better of him twice, which caused umpire Carlos Bernardes to hand the Serb two warnings, including the loss of a point on the second warning. The second warning resulted when Djokovic smashed his racket in frustration at 40-30 to end the 11th game of the second set prematurely. The first warning came in the sixth game of the first set. Annoyed at losing a point, Djokovic angrily smacked a ball to the ground that accidentally flew into the stands and hit a woman. While that could have resulted in a default, Bernardes just issued Djokovic a warning. 'I definitely didn't want to hit the ball at anybody,' Djokovic said. 'Just happened. Fortunate not to get a bigger fine. I have to be more careful I guess. I accept that I made a mistake. It was not intentional at all.' The top-ranked Murray has lost all 20 matches he's played against Djokovic when he's lost the first set. Overall, Djokovic held a 25-11 career record over Murray. 'Playing against Andy, somehow it feels like playing the mirror image of (me) because we have very similar styles of game,' Djokovic said. 'I can't recall out of the 35-plus matches how many were kind of one-sided really. Most of the matches we play it's always going down to the very last few points to decide the winner.' Murray won their last encounter 6-3, 6-4 in the ATP Finals in November. That victory catapulted Murray ahead of Djokovic to the year-end No. 1 ranking for the first time. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017