I played Tennis, on and off, since grade 5. I remember my uncle gave me this Wilson wooden racquet with braces. I would wake up early in the morning and go to GSIS tennis court. It’s very rare that I would play at the clay court of Sorsogon Tennis Club (STC) since there are more players vying for their slots; plus it was intimidating to mix with the experts.
I remember, aside from GSIS tennis court and the club’s clay court at Gobyerno, I also played at Camp Escudero – another clay court in the old town. Those are the three tennis courts, all clay, I remember. However, it was the GSIS’ court that was poorly maintained. It was at the back of the old government building. It was more fun for newbies to play there since one could have it for himself.
The court was always deserted, there was no pulot boy around. So, whoever wanted to play had to take care of those tennis balls. And there was no net on the side of the road. I remember climbing over the wall to get the tennis balls.
When the GSIS tennis court started to deteriorate (grass started to grow on the court), I was good enough to get playing slot at the Sorsogon Tennis Club. Admittedly, I would only last for 5 minutes; 10 minutes would be the longest. I remember the old man who maintained the clay court was also living within the compound. His sons and the youngest daughter became good tennis players. The daughter, who was 5 years old then, would play with her older siblings; sometimes, the racquet is bigger than her. From what I heard, she reached Bicol Meet during her time in high school. My mom would sometimes pay one of the sons of the old man to teach me. His name is Bigit. He still plays, as far as I know. I remember Mr. Agnes and Mr. Alegre showing up every morning; Msgr. Varella would show up every afternoon. There were a few ladies that played, but I don’t think it was in the late 80s. So, one could call it an old gentleman’s club.
In high school, I played more than a couple of times at the PC/INP tennis court at Camp Escudero. Since I wasn’t that good and I lost more than a couple of tennis balls that went beyond the camp walls.
Currently, there are two (2) clay courts – Sorsogon Tennis Club (2 courts) and PNP tennis (single) court; and a two-tennis court at Penafrancia Seminary along Magsaysay St. at Brgy. Bibincahan. I also remember that during one of the provincial meets of Sorsogon in the early 90s, some played at the Balogo Sports Complex as part of the competition.
It would be nice to know when these old tennis courts were constructed. It seems that they have common history considering all of them – GSIS, STC and PNP – are made of clay. It’s also a curious point if it was built during the time of the American occupation. Clay court is not exactly popular in the US, compared to Latin America or Europe.