Pinay junior ace netter Zoleta off to India for Asian, World tilts

MANILA -- Starting them young, a well-rounded sports program and sustained international exposures will lift Filipino athletes in the world stage.

This Saturday (Feb. 25), Amanda Gabrielle Salvacion Zoleta, will embark on an arduous mission, representing the Philippines in a high-level world junior tennis tournament in New Delhi, India.

The young Zoleta, turning 14 this April, is the second-generation of tennis-playing Zoleta family from Iyam, Lucena City.

Fondly called "Gaby," the right-handed Zoleta is a two-handed backhand specialist, who has earned podium finishes in numerous age group tennis competitions locally and throughout the Southeast Asian region for years.

She got this far while watching her parents, and aunts Bien and Bambi, while training and playing in a lot of tournaments at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center, at age 4.

Gaby's tennis fundamentals was taught by her father, Karl, a USPTA certified coach, who found time while working as a graphic designer at a web design company; and her mother, Amanda, who took time out from her work at a call center.

Karl is a former top 10 junior player and a varsity of DLSU-CSB while her two aunts, Bien and Bambi, are former No. 1 players in singles and doubles as members of the Philippine national team.

In April 2011 at age 8 , her father and coach enrolled her to the Milo Summer Tennis Clinic in Lucena. With only a month of training, she entered her first national age-group tournament in Manila and since then has been actively competing in age group tournaments.

Her first taste of a crown was at the 12 years-and-under 1st National Age-group in 2011. Two years later, at age 10, she would win nine of 16 championships in tournaments in the Southern Tagalog region.

At age 10, Gaby also began playing in age group tournaments in Malaysia. In her maiden try, she won her first international crown in the singles of the 2013 Selangor-Genting International Junior Open Tennis, and a bronze medal in the doubles.

Her successful international stint earned her more honors in the three other legs. Furthermore, podium finishes in 2014 and 2015 in Malaysia came her way.

Her commitment in the sports eventually landed her a place in the national junior squad, which took third place in the team event of the South East Asian Junior Tennis Championships also in 2015.

The amiable Gaby had a chance to go for bigger tournaments like the International Tennis Federation junior circuit and the Asian Juniors last year. But a foot injury sidelined her, forcing her to focus on her studies at the Bristol Integrated School in Lucena.

Despite her layoff last year, Gaby's dedication and love of the game resulted in convincing finishes, winning the 14-under girls crown in the PHILTA-PSC age group, and then the top honors in the 28th Andrada Cup.

Gabby's passion and commitment, boosted by the support of her parents and relatives, are more than enough inspiration while playing for flag and country this weekend. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency