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Velez-Gabuat showdown looms

John David Velez and Thomas Gabuat gear up for a fierce showdown in the boys’ centerpiece division even as Kimi Brodeth seeks to extend her romp in girls’ play of the PPS-PEPP Baybay City National Juniors Tennis Championships, which got underway Thursday at Baybay courts in Leyte.

Velez has dominated the 18-U side in the Puerto Princesa and Ormoc legs of the Group 2 tournament but the Ormoc City recruit braces for a tough outing this week, given a crack roster of rivals out to halt his romp in the country’s longest talent-search, led by Zambo Sibugay’s Gabuat, Gerald Gemida and Randy Pausanos.

The eight age-group category event drew six 32-player draws, underscoring the continuing solid support from both the players and the various local government units that kept the Palawan Pawnshop tennis program buzzing and the youngsters busy in pursuit of honors and ranking points year-round.

Gabuat and Gemida, meanwhile, are tipped to dispute the 16-U trophy but a slew of others is out to spoil their projected clash, including Pausanos, Kenzo Brodeth, Ariel Semblantes, Christian Laguna, Jay Laguna and Ruzzel Manlimos.

David Sepulveda top-bills the 14-U cast that also includes Kenzo Brodeth, Urcisino Villa, Claudwin Tonacao, Edrielle dela Cruz, Michael Cari and the Laguna siblings.

Sepulveda and Villa also banners the big 12-U roster along with Cari and Prinz Canezo.

Kimi Brodeth, on the other hand, looks all set for another twinkill after sweeping the 16- and 18-U diadems at home in Ormoc last week. But the likes of Kate Imalay and Sanschena Francisco are both raring to stop her run in the circuit.

Imalay also leads the girls’ 14-U category that also drew Samantha Ortega, Ma. Caroliean Fiel, Molly Tan, Chrystell Laguna, Dorothy Araneta, Julienne Celeste and Maria Ataiza, while Fiel, Celeste, Tan and Laguna head the 12-U roster of the event aimed at discovering talents in the countryside and developing them into becoming future members of the national pool or team.

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