By Mike Baños
A grade 4 student from Kong Hua school has continued Cagayan de Oro’s proud heritage of outstanding junior girls tennis players pioneered by the likes of Marisue Jacutin-Mariona, and Roxanne May Resma, by rising to become the Philippines top ranked tennis player in the Girls 12-and-under age group category.
According to the Philippine Tennis Association (PHILTA) ranking for girls 12-years-and-under, Francine Madeleine Wong is the country’s top ranked tennister in this age group with 860 total points as of June 30, 2023. PHILTA rankings are based on the points scored by the player from the 10 best PHILTA she played in plus International Tennis Federation (ITF) points less penalties.
With her latest silverware from Braemer Country Club Junior Circuit Tournament 2023
Maggie started to play tennis when she was 5 years old and is now only 10 years old.
“When my doctor told me I needed to exercise after my executive check-up, I enrolled both of us for lessons so we could learn together,” said her mom Michelle Du Wong. “She was only in kindergarten then and had lots of free time.”
Maggie was first trained by Greg Mosqueda, but when he left for Japan, she as referred to
Noel “Noweng” Sanchez of Nazareth and RER Tennis Courts, who has been her constant coach for the last five years.
Maggie honed her skills during the time of the pandemic when she had plenty of free time and played all day every day, even when it meant playing with a surgical mask during the health protocols at the time. She trains for at least 2 hours daily with Coach Noweng weekdays after school, and four hours on weekends.
She won second place at her first tournament in Nazareth for both the 10-under unisex category and girls 12-and-under.
1st time Champion at 10 yrs old with Grandpa Demosthenes Du
“She has a strong serve-and-volley game and never ceases to amaze people with the power of her forehand,” noted Coach Noweng. “However, she can be even better with more improvement to her footwork.”
Later, her aunt Chere Gioskos sponsored further training under Coach Roland Kraut, head coach of De LaSalle University Varsity Tennis Team in Manila and former members of the Philippines Davis Cup team, while her grandfather Demosthenes “Boy” Du sponsored her travels and lessons. Grandpa Boy was a varsity swimmer and athletic scholar of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City during his college days.
“The way she is now, she could be considered a few years ahead of her age group,” Coach Roland noted. “She is strong for her age but as she matures, we shall have to see how she adjusts her game and her potential.”
With Mario Craiz Philta Tournament Director for Mindanao and hitting partner Daniela Dandalanin.
Maggie has been joining and winning tournaments in the Philippines since last year. Mario Craiz, PHILTA Tournament Director for Mindanao, has been instrumental in helping kids like her from the Visayas and Mindanao discover their potential, by organizing tournaments so even those from far flung areas can participate to earn points and improve their rankings.
“Mario has always invited Maggie to his tournaments and luckily he hosted one in Nazareth where my Mom and Dad were able to join and watch Maggie play and Dad saw Maggie’s talent. We are very thankful Dad sponsored this trip. He is so proud of Maggie,” Michelle shared.
This summer Maggie went to California to train at the IN Tennis Academy upon Coach Roland Kraut’s advice with his son, and was able to join USTA (United States Tennis Association) tournaments.
She has won 3 consecutive 10 under girls Junior Circuit Events in Irvine Tennis Center, the Anaheim Tennis and Pickleball Center, and most recently, at the Braemar Country Club in Tarzana, Ca.
Next week will be her 4th tournament at Fountain Valley, Ca. and by next month she will join the Little Mo Internationals at New Jersey, USA.