By Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/Asianjournal.com
SACRAMENTO – He has been playing tennis for most of his life and has won tournaments in the Philippines and Asia, but competing with other seasoned players here in the US has never occurred to Vince Marc “Mac-mac” Tabotabo. He is, after all, only 11 years old.
Mac-mac, however, proved himself wrong after his short stay in the US, winning two titles and one runner-up slot, and earning an entry to the Little Mo national finals slated this year, following the sectionals the other week at Folsom, where he topped.
The Little Mo tennis tournaments is the premier challenge for young kids across the US to compete at the sectional, regional and national level. The diminutive Mac-mac was able to end his stint in the Southern California Sectionals at 4th place. But the sweetest victory was at the end of his US sojourn, grabbing the Boys 11 division title at the Laguna Creek Junior Creek Open at the Laguna Creek Racquet Club in Elk Grove, California last May 2. Mac-mac defeated a much bigger and experienced Avery Moor with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
But Mac-mac’s journey to the US was not easy. Together with his father Titus Tabotabo, who used to be a tennis trainer at the Ding Velayo Sports Center in Manila, they hurdled through the same trials of struggling athletes in the Philippines—the lack of support from the government and athletic organizations, including funding for equipment, facilities and financial back-up. However, these did not stop father and son to step up to challenge and reach for their dreams.
Hailing from Tuburan, Cebu, the provincial government, led by Governor Gwen Garcia and Vice Governor Greg Sanchez, was the one who supported the Tabotabos’ trip to the US. Though the funds was spent mostly covered airfare, the father-and-son received aid from fellow Filipinos.
“Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa mga tulong ng mga Pilipino dito, (I am very thankful for the support and help of the Filipinos here),” said Titus in a telephone interview with the Asian Journal. “Marc has built a fan [club] based here in Northern California, especially in the Filipino community.” In fact, Mac-mac’s victories has pulled in Filipino crowds to watch him play.
“Sinasabi nila, the boy from the Philippines is beating everybody,” said Titus proudly about his son. “Magaling daw. (They said he is good.)”
Reaching out to anyone or any organization for more support, Titus hopes that this will not be the end of Mac-mac’s tennis career. It was a sad story, he said, relating his experience where they live. Titus, who had also competed in the past, is training the kids in his hometown for free. “There is no interest to support these kids,” he said in Filipino. “I am hoping that Mac-mac’s achievements can make them wake up, support us by helping us in training, equipment and supplies.”
Mac-mac will return later this year to play in the nationals. This is a bigger achievement compared to last year, where he had to fight for a slot to the main draw of the Little Mo nationals.
Moreover, Titus dreams to have an organization or club which will help in honing his son’s talent. “Sana matulungan si Mac-mac na dito makapag-aral (I wish that they can help Mac-mac study here). My son is promising, has talent.”