Behind the spotlight given to UAAP’s televised sports, the tennis tournament has had its fair share of phenoms
The sport has seen an influx of teen sensations who have made an immediate impact on their first (and to some, only) year in the league. Some even stamped their class with undefeated records, such as Season 76 Rookie of the Year Jurence Mendoza and Season 74 awardee Leander Lazaro.
Thus, it is no surprise to have the current top juniors player in the country bulldoze his opponents. Alberto Lim Jr. is no stranger to high expectations.
The 17-year-old was, they say, the missing piece of the University of the East’s title aspirations. And after 12 ties, he indeed fulfilled the promise.
“Sa totoo lang po talaga, yung teammates ko, whether andito ko or wala ako, tingin ko kaya naman nila,” the Davis Cup campaigner shared moments after UE’s win last Wednesday.
“Ang tingin ko na na-[contribute] ko lang sa kanila eh yung kaya ko silang i-push. Yung mga experiences ko abroad ina-apply, tinutulungan ko po sila para talagang swertehin kami.”
The championship is but the fruit of the hard work put in by the team’s coaches, headed by Numero Lim, AJ’s elder brother. And for the younger sibling, it was a sigh of relief.
“Sa UAAP kasi hindi mo nan makukuha lahat ng players. Rebuilding talaga siya, recruiting talaga,” the native of Matatalaib, Tarlac said.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa coaches lalo na kay coach Roel Licayan, kay coach Fritz [Verdad], at sa kuya ko, na nagsipag silang mag-recruit ng player at ibigay nila yung pangangailangan ng players.”
The youngest of the current Davis Cup squad admitted that taking their maiden title had not been an easy task. “Hirap rin sa pakiramdam namin mentally kasi hindi pa kami nagcha-champion, so talagang pinush namin. Nakuha namin yung rhythm namin, nag-champion kami,” he shared.
By doing one better than Mendoza and Lazaro — taking the title along with his team — Lim Jr. walked away with the Most Valuable Player trophy.
With such talent, it is not a shocker that the current King of UAAP Tennis has lured US schools to invite him. “Meron po pero tinitignan ko yung possibilities. Hindi po closed book yun. Hindi ko rinbpo masasabing dito na ko sa UE permanently,” the phenom shared.
“Mahirap pong tanggihan yung offers sa US kasi magaganda po facilities dun. At the same time, yung caliber ng players dun iba. For now, magfo-focus muna ako sa tennis career ko.”
Nonetheless, between now and the decision of whether or not Lim Jr. moves on to the States, there is more to be done. He laid down his plans and said, “May Davis Cup ako sa Thailand. Mag-start na ako ng professional career ko. Hopefully, masali pa rin ako sa Grand Slam sa juniors.”
All of this depends on his bosses’ decisions, especially on a possible stint on the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.
“Hangga’t wala pong sinasabi sa kin mga bossing ko sa PSC, training lang ng training. Pero pag kinuha po nila ko sa SEA Games, why not?”
The promise of the first title might have been fulfilled, but the bigger promise presented by the talent of the tennis Red Phenom has just begun.