By Jean Malanum

HOPING FOR THE BEST. Cebuano Eljey Dan Tormis (third from left) and Filipino-French Edouard Valenet (fourth from left) will debut in the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games next month. Photo shows the two athletes with (L-R) coaches Johanne Remaneses and Lauro Crisostomo, national team mainstays Kheith Rhynne Cruz, Angelou Joyce Laude and Sendrina Andrea Balatbat, coach Annabelle Comendador and player Rose Jean Fadol during the Philippine Table Tennis Federation, Inc. national selection held in Palawan on Feb. 22-26, 2023. (Photo courtesy of PTTF)

MANILA – Philippine Table Tennis Federation, Inc. (PTTF) president Ting Ledesma hopes that the team going to the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games next month can bring home at least three medals.

“The target is one gold and two bronze medals,” Ledesma said in an interview on Wednesday. “We have two talented newcomers who are potential medal winners.”

Ledesma said the gold medal may come from the men’s doubles events and the two bronze medals from the men’s and women’s singles events.

The men’s team is composed of Jann Mari Nayre, John Russell Misal, Eljey Dan Tormis, Filipino-French Edoard Valenet and Richard Gonzales while in the women’s squad are Rose Jean Fadol, Kheith Rhynne Cruz, Sendrina Andrea Balatbat, Angelou Joyce Laude and Emy Rose Dael.

Seeing action in the men’s doubles are 2022 Vietnam SEA Games silver medal winners Misal and Gonzales and the pair of Valenet and Tormis.

Gonzales and Nayre are also entered in the men’s singles event, while Cruz and Dael are in the women’s singles event.

Playing in the women’s doubles are Cruz and Fadol, and Dael and Laude. Valenet and Laude are the other mixed doubles pair. Valenet and Tormis both performed brilliantly at the PTTF National Selection last February in Puerto Princesa, Palawan to earn slots in the SEAG-bound team.

“I’m excited,” said the 19-year-old Tormis, who will team up with Fadol in the mixed doubles.

“I’m proud to say that being in the national team is one of the best achievements that I’ve done, because this is one of my dreams that came true,” said the 5-foot-6 Bachelor of Science in science fitness sports and management student at the University of Santo Tomas (UST).

Tormis, who was born and raised in Cebu City, moved to Manila in 2018 and stayed with couple Mary Jane and Mark Chavez, who are both table tennis enthusiasts.

“I met Korean coach Kwon Mi Sook during the 2017 Huaching International Invitational tournament in Cebu. She was with the national team at that time. She saw my potential and she started training me and Jann Mari Nayre,” he narrated.

Nayre made history as the first Filipino table tennis player to compete at the Youth Olympics when she qualified in the 2018 edition held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Cambodia SEA Games is not the first international tournament for Tormis. He joined the national junior team in 2020 and two years later, he won the bronze medal in the team event with Henze Dominique Lucero, Mahendra Cabrido and Yves Reg at the Southeast Asia Junior and Cadet Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Hopefully, with the support of the PFFT, my alma mater UST and our sponsors, I can achieve more in the future,” Tormis said. (PNA)