Nino Alcantara: The next big thing in Philippine Tennis

REAL SPORTS SCENE By Anthony Suntay Nino-Alcantara-6.jpgNiño Alcantara: Move over, Roger Federer!

Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal. Andy Murray.

These are just some of the tennis greats showcasing their talents on the world stage, and we can only wish that we have a Filipino joining their ranks soon.

Francis Casey “Niño” Alcantara, has been playing the sport since he was six, and possibly playing against his idol Federer, keeps him going! 

He was considered the next big thing in Philippine tennis after he won the Australian Open Juniors title in 2009. His highest rank in the juniors was number 14 in the world.

He has regularly carried the national colors in international competitions, and the coming SEA Games is next on his calendar.

Unfortunately, the sport has been in the headlines recently because of the leadership problems of the National Association. Politics has always hampered the development of sports here in the Philippines, and we can only hope that we get leaders who are genuinely interested in the progress of our athletes.

The recent success of Niño in Singapore shows that he is on the right path to succeed on the ATP Tour. Joining and progressing on the ITF Circuit has been the stepping stone of many of today’s top players.

PHILIPPINE STAR: How did you first become interested in tennis? 

NINO ALCANTARA: I started playing when I was six years old because my dad played tennis and our house in CDO was right in front of the tennis court.

When did you decide that tennis was the sport for you? 

It was when I was discovered by Romeo Chan back when I was 11 years old. He went to Cagayan de Oro and offered me to train and stay with him in his house in Manila. From then on, I traveled around the world playing all the  junior grand slams and through that, I got myself a scholarship in the United States. 

Talk about winning at the recent Singapore event — what were your expectations coming in, and your initial reaction on winning?

It was tough at first because it was my first tournament back because of my wrist injury, but luckily, my partner and I played really well the first few matches and we were very compatible with each other as well. As the tournament progressed, we were confident with our games already.

How did you choose Sam Verbeek as your partner? And will you be a regular doubles tandem? 

Sam messaged me on FB asking if I could play doubles with him so I said yes because I know he is a good doubles player. And yes, he might be my constant doubles partner. I am going to Belgium in two weeks to play in three or four tournaments there with him.

How does your training regimen look like? 

I run in the morning, play two hours of tennis, break, play another two hours, and go to the gym after. I do it five times a week. 

What are your future goals in the sport?

I wanna be top 100 in the world and to play the Olympics. 

What do you think needs to be done to propel the sport to greater heights?

It seems our development programs have not been able to grow the sport and develop world-class talents.

We need to have good and willing leaders to run the sport. It should not be about politics anymore. Also, we do not have the best facilities out there so it is really hard for us to train and compete with other players from other countries. But my team and I are doing our best to make the most of what we have in Manila right now, training-wise. 

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