If you’re a tennis fan, you must visit Asmara Urban Resort and Lifestyle Village to watch some backhands and volleys.

Jeson Patrombon, Jed Olivarez, Elbert Anasta, Noynoy Seno, Joshua Kinaadman and several more are playing. They’re not ordinary netters. They are some of the country’s best.

Where’s Asmara? It’s in Banilad and used to be called Sandtrap. Now, it’s been transformed into a three-clay-court tennis paradise complete with hotel rooms with plenty of dining and sports amenities. The man who owns the tennis haven is Carlo Cordaro, who is also Asmara’s creative and lifestyle director.

Originally from Italy but now calling Cebu his home, I had a chat with Carlo last Friday when the games began. We talked about his native Italy playing in the Davis Cup. He spoke about his love for this game played by Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini.

The Asmara All Stars Tennis tournament is an invitational-type of event with 16 singles players and eight doubles pairings.

This is the second Asmara tournament this year (the first was in June) and it’s notable because it’s challenging to organize a sporting event during this pandemic. Mr. Cordaro was able to accomplish this.

“We don’t even have any tournaments in Manila,” said Jun Toledo, noted national coach and the head of the Phil. Tennis Academy program. Jun is in Cebu and he brought him with three young players who are part of the draw.

Jun Toledo is Cebu’s only homegrown Davis Cup player (he was born and raised here) and he was the No. 1 doubles player during his prime.

The Round of 16 and quarterfinals were played last Friday; the semis yesterday; and today, at 3 p.m., is the Men’s Singles Final. The doubles final should be right after.

You should go and watch!

WOMEN’S TENNIS. If you have not read it yet, there is a major controversy involving Peng Shuai, one of China’s all-time best players. Peng was ranked world No. 1 in women’s doubles (2014) and was ranked # 14 in singles (2011). The 35-year-old has won 22 doubles trophies and two singles crowns.

But it’s not her success on the tennis court that has gained her popularity of late. It’s the revelation she made last month of former Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulting her.

After Peng’s bombastic exposé via social media, she “disappeared.” No word of her surfaced until weeks later when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the sporting world protested her disappearance. Peng finally emerged in a video chat with the IOC president—but these have not stopped many quarters from suspecting that she’s being coerced to retract her story and to reappear (by the Chinese government). Many are fearful for her safety.

In response, the WTA tournaments in China for 2022 have all been suspended because of Peng’s case. Even the ATP Tour (men’s league) is being pressured to pull out of China next year. One major event is the Shanghai Masters—scheduled for Oct. 2022. It’s an event that we watched three years ago. Let’s see if the tennis executives will collaborate to help Peng Shuai.