Lucena City Pickleball Club delivered a dominant performance as it bagged five medals in the Oakley Hong Kong Open Pickleball Open Championships 2023 last 3 to 5 November in Hong Kong.
Bannered by College of Saint Benilde standout Gaby Zoleta, the squad took home three silver and two bronze medals in the prestigious two-day event against the best pickleball netters from Asia.
Zoleta, the niece of Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Bien Zoleta, advanced to the final but bowed to compatriot Eren Louise Grace Penados, 20-21, to settle for the silver medal in the 19+ women’s singles category.
Anya Uy snagged a silver medal in the 19+ men’s singles category while the tandem of John Eric Buhay and Odilon Tayag also claimed the silver in the 50+ men’s doubles.
Uy emerged with another podium finish after teaming up with Sorren Emprese to claim the bronze medal in the 19+ men’s doubles while Aaliyah Julao also ran away with a bronze medal in the 19+ women’s singles category.
Despite failing to win a gold, coach Karl Zoleta was still proud of how the squad performed considering that they were stacked against some national team members under the sizzling Hong Kong sun.
“The team performed well overall but we weren’t ready when we realized that the tournament would be held outdoors since we would start training at 6 p.m. The younger players can handle it but not the older players who had to work during the daytime,” Karl, the father of Gaby, said.
“We are a club team, unlike our opponents which fielded national teams. We’re proud to say we can play in international tournaments.”
With the Hong Kong tilt done, the LCPC is setting its sights on the 2024 Asia Pickleball Open in Phuket, Thailand from 13 to 19 February.
Zoleta said they will have to allot some time in conditioning to make sure they will be at their best when they compete for pride and glory.
“For us, since the game is addictive, we will make time to play. Our only break is on Sundays,” Karl said.
“This time, we need to work on the stamina of the players. Although we take our training seriously, we have to allot time to build their stamina and training for their conditioning.”