Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fair Play: Make it a grand third for Lapu-Lapu

MY home back in South Cotabato was about 50 meters away from the tennis court, and about 100 meters from the football field, so tennis has always been one of my favorite sports.

That's why I'm really glad that Lapu-Lapu City gets to host a Davis Cup match, for the third time.  And, aside from that, it's  great to hear, too, from the organizers that they are doing their best to make sure there will be a crowd for Syria vs. Philippines game, one that we have more than an even chance to win.

In the previous matches, against Japan and Chinese Taipei, the visitors got us beat in terms of crowd participation as the local communities from both countries came prepared and had their Cebuano employees cheering against the Philippines. It was an unpleasant sight, but hey, can you blame the employees?

One of the first moves of Lapu-Lapu City is to offer the games, for free and that's a good move.  But I think, aside from that, the organizers have to address transportation and other issues to make it a fan-friendly atmosphere.

Make no mistake about it, it's a bitch going to Plantation Bay, and when you get there, unless you have enough dough to spend P200 for a bottle of water, you might regret going there. Lapu-Lapu can get a hakot crowd, with the drums of course, but that didn't work in the previous ties.  Though the weather may be partly to be blamed, as half of the boys and girls in school uniforms were forced to leave because of the intense heat of the sun.  As to their hired drummers, well, at one point, it seemed they needed a cue when to bang their drums that I yelled "drums" during those moments of silence.

Another thing, those who went to the matches, it seemed, didn’t know what they were in for. Tennis matches can last for as little as an hour to over six hours, and when Cecil Mamiit was battling it out in the fifth set, a family who was sitting a row ahead of us, actually left while Cecil was still serving at 4-4.

John Pages, I think, tried to talk to the Dad to wait after the game (the game, not the match) was over, but to no avail.

I hope, this time around, there will be a better fan reception in the Davis Cup match.  You really don’t have to be a tennis expert to enjoy a match, especially one involving the country.  All you need is common sense and manners—shut up when a point is being played or when someone is about to serve and yell to your heart’s content when we earn a point.

By the way, aside from batting for local fans, I hope organizers too will have something cooked for the traveling fans. A fellow Azkal fan flew in the morning and flew out late at night just to get the chance to cheer for the Philippines when we faced mighty Japan.

And yes, there is really something different when you cheer for the country in a sports event, especially when the home athletes are playing off the emotions of the crowd.  In those moments, sometimes you feel you become part of the national team and that it is duty to defend the flag by lending your voice.

I hope sports fans—not just tennis fans—in Cebu know what a rare opportunity having a Davis Cup match here is.  Fans in other places go a lifetime without having the chance to watch a home match and here we are, hosting our third tie in two years. 

So this February, let’s make it a grand third for Lapu-Lapu City.  This is a rare chance for fans and this is also one opportunity where fans can determine whether a hosting will be successful or not.

So let’s spare a few hours for the flag.

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