Daily Tribune (Philippines)

Remember, Ringo?


Not all Filipino tennis standouts end up as coaches or trainers.

Some graduated to other fields of endeavor, including Ringo Navarrosa who now works as a nurse in the United States.

He was one of several Filipinos recruited in US colleges in the eighties. Among them: Felix Barrientos and Roland So, Lousiana State University; Antonio del Rosario, Sta. Clara University; Antonio Payumo, Notre Dame; and Joseph Lizardo, Temple University.

Not one of them played long enough to reach the pinnacle of success — the Associatio­n of Tennis Profession­als (ATP) Tour.

Barrientos, former poster boy of Philippine tennis, is now a successful banker.

His fame marked a brief tennis renaissanc­e in the country in the eighties that was not capitalize­d by the government and private sector.

There was no grassroots program despite the increase in a number of internatio­nal events held in the country.

Tennis courts and training facilities did not sprout as many expected.

By the time Barrientos and company left, Philippine tennis was in tatters.

Courts started to disappear, including the historic Intramuros tennis club that has been converted into a parking lot.

Ringo was not around while this was happening as he stayed in the US after graduating from the University of Arizona.

Only die-hard followers of the sport would remember Ringo, the former Philippine Columbian Associatio­n (PCA) Open champion of the eighties whose baseline game was without peer.

His signature move was his backhand, a weapon he used to obliterate his opponents.

Ringo left the country in 1988 after being taken by University of Arizona on a tennis scholarshi­p.

A back injury ended his tennis career abruptly and Ringo took up nursing after completing a business degree.

It was something he had always wanted, he confessed.

There, he met his future wife, a former classmate of his sister in Maasin, Leyte.

Both are now licensed nurses in San Diego, California. They work on 12-hour shifts, three or four times a week.

He was one of several Filipinos recruited in US colleges in the eighties.

After more than three decades, I stumbled into Ringo accidental­ly while writing a story about Allisen Corpuz’s recent golf campaign as top gun of the University of Southern California.

It turned out that Brianna, Corpuz’s teammate, is the 18-year-old daughter of Ringo.

A few days later, Ringo and I were talking on the phone.

Ringo is now an avid golfer who plays twice a week.

He said golf is perfect for Filipinos whose size put them in a big disadvanta­ge.

At five-foot-two, Brianna has made a name in the junior ranks and is now a freshman at the University of Southern California.

Told that Brianna, being a Filipino-American, could be tapped to represent the country in internatio­nal tournament­s. Ringo did not hesitate.

“It will always be an honor to play for one’s country,” he said.

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