It didn’t matter if it was his first time, Monsignor Jose “Jojo” Dosado Jr. became Cebu’s saving grace after he clinched the 56 & Above title of the 6th Fr. Suarez Cup National Tennis Championship for Priests which came to an end last February 5 at the Citigreen Tennis Resort in barangay Punta Princesa, Cebu City.
Other winners were Father Fernando Suarez II of Mindoro, who retained his title in the 46-55 category, Father Neil Sureta of Bicol, who bagged the 45 & Below title and the tandem of Arnel Haber and Jerry Pascual, both also from Bicol, the new doubles champion.
Dosado, who has not been active in joining tournaments for almost a decade now, thrashed Father Domingo Tapic, unfortunately also from Cebu, 8-4, for the title.
“The last time I won in a tournament was in the 90s,” said Dosado, who admitted that although he did not compete for a long time, he continued to play tennis with other priests in Cebu as part of their weekly gathering wherein they call themselves the “Tuesday Group”.
Enroute to the title, Dosado lambasted Monsignor Nene Caldoza of Bacolod, 8-1, in the semifinals and Bishop Precioso Cantillas of Maasin, Southern Leyte, 8-3, in the quarterfinals.
As for Tapic, perhaps the one bright spot in his campaign was forcing the defending champion, Father Tony Villanueva of Paranaque, to retire in their quarterfinal match while he was up 6-2. He then earned his finals ticket via an 8-5 outsmarting of Daniel Sanico, who is also from Cebu.
Both Suarez and Sureta were handed their titles on a silver platter. Suarez retained his 46-55 title after Alvin Codilla, also from Cebu, opted to no longer engage him in the finals due to cramps. Sureta, for his part, became the new 45 & Below champion when Haber decided to default in their finals match as he just finished clinching the doubles title alongside his partner Pascual.
Suarez proved his dominance in the sport with a love set against Isidritto “Rere” Ducao of Cebu in the Final 4, wherein he advanced with no sweat after he was awarded a walkover against Waren Paramio of Tagum in the quarterfinals.
Sureta had a contrasting fate. He had it easy in the first three rounds, a bye, then an 8-1 demolition of Emmanuel Emata of Tagum followed by denying Rino Guaring of Tuguegarao even a single point. However, he was put to task in the quarterfinals after SVD’s Paulus Karmani forced a tiebreaker on him, which he survived 7-1 for a final score of 8-7. The semifinals was another easy conquest for Sureta, an 8-1 demolition of Didoy Molina of Manila.
Because the two remaining singles finals were not contested, the doubles finals became the highlight of the tournament’s final day with Haber and Pascual outsmarting the duo of Julius Cesar Anas and Noel Gastones, 8-5, of Tagum.
At the start of the finals match, Anas and Gastones were able to keep up by tying the match at 2-all. However, Haber and Pascual started pulling ahead when Gastones got hobbled by cramps. The Tagum tandem managed to save four matchpoints on their serve but was unable to stop the eventual champions from closing out the match in their favor.
The most exciting match of the tournament though was when Haber and Pascaul dismissed defending champions Ducao and Joseph Larida of Cebu in the final 16 round. It had seemed that the Cebu pair would not be deterred in retaining their title when they posted a huge 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker with the score at 7-all. However, Ducao started feeling the cramps and he and his partner eventually bid their title retention campaign goodbye, 7-8 (5-7).
In addition to the trip to Rome and representing the Philippines to the annual International Tennis Championship for Priests in Poland later this year, all winners also received a motorcycle.