Fil-Ams rock at the US Open 2019

Andre Alcantara
AJPress photo by Troi Santos

Andre Alcantara, JAGMAC entertain fans

THE US Open ended over the weekend with a bang and for both men’s and women’s championship matches, it was about youth versus experience.

On the women’s side on Saturday, the 19-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu denied Serena Williams her 24th Grand Slam title by winning her first in straight sets. Their age gap of 18 years was the largest age gap in a championship match at a grand slam.

For the men’s championship, the age gap was smaller at just 10 years, between the 33-year-old Rafael Nadal and the 23-year-old Daniil Medvedev. It looked like it was going to be an easy win for the Spaniard who sailed and won the first two sets. The Russian repositioned his strategy and came from behind to win the next two, pushing the match into a fifth set decider.

In the end, it was experience that prevailed. After four hours and 50 minutes of slugfest, Nadal claimed his 19th Grand Slam trophy. He is now just one championship win away from Roger Federer who owns the record at 20.

Photo by Marilen Clemente

And with that, we witnessed the last grand slam tournament of the decade. We have to wait for four months for the next slam, the Australian Open in January.

In the meantime, let’s look back at this year’s US Open for some of the Filipino American personalities we saw.

Andre Alcantara, US Open Kidcaster

Aside from Alex Eala, who made her US Open Juniors Championship debut, there was another young Filipino whose face became familiar with those who follow tennis.

His name is Andre Alcantara and he was a US Open Kidcaster, which means he, along with some other kids, gets to show some behind-the-scenes look at the US Open.

This is part of Net Generation, the United States Tennis Association’s efforts for children to get into the sport, making it easier for children and their parents to learn about tennis and get into the game in schools, parks and tennis clubs across the country.

The USTA emailed his parents and asked if Andre could be a “kidcaster”.

The young Alcantara was ecstatic when he found out.

“It’s super good. I’ve had a lot of opportunities so far, and as a kidcaster, I get to interview different players and officials,” Alcantara shared with the Asian Journal. “This is exciting, it is the biggest grand slam in the world.”

This is the first time that the he is able to attend the US Open. It is also his first trip to New York City and the fact that he is enjoying it with his parents and his younger brother Ashton means the entire world to him.

Rafael Nadal, who won his fourth US Open trophy, poses with ball boys and ball girls, after he won a fifth set thriller against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev. | AJPress photo by Momar G. Visaya

The 11-year-old Andre is also a budding tennis player. His dad is also into the sport so he encouraged him when he was young to see if he liked to play.

Andre with Naomi Osaka

At the age of 5, Andre got hold of a racket and he started playing since. When he was 7 years old, he competed for the first time.

He was named after his dad’s idol, tennis legend Andre Agassi.

“My parents didn’t tell me much about him but I know that he is the greatest returner of all time,” he said. For his part, Andre idolizes Roger Federer and the Bryan brothers.

The young tennis player counts his interview with Petra Kvitova as one of the most memorable experiences he’s had in the tournament “simply because she has won 2 Wimbledon championships.”

Andre with Kobe

Then there are also his moments with basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, last year’s women’s champ Naomi Osaka and his idol Federer. Bryant went to the USTA Tennis Center in Flushing to promote his book “Legacy and the Queen”.

So how did he prepare for this gig?

“Me and my parents, we think about the questions ahead of time. I need to be ready,” he quipped.

And for the lessons and nuggets of wisdom he learned, he said he was able to overcome some of his shyness.

“They told me never to be afraid of the camera. I get scared sometimes,” he shared.

Andre dreams to become a professional tennis player himself, which is why he plans to use this experience at the US Open to inspire himself further. Add to that the regular practice sessions, about four hours a day, at the No Quit Tennis Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Andre is currently in the sixth grade and he is homeschooled by his parents Eric and Ana.

“We support him all the way and this is really his passion,” his parents said. “Hanggang gusto niya, mahirap kasi pag pinipilit. But it’s really his dream.”

JAGMAC, a band composed of six Filipino-Polish siblings, performed at the US Open’s Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. They were named Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing in 2018. 
| Photo from Instagram/@jagmacmusic

JAGMAC at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day

They’re called JAGMAC and they were dubbed as Radio Disney’s NBT or ‘Next Big Thing’ last year. Among the previous ‘Next Big Thing’ alumni are Shawn Mendes, Camilla Cabello, Fifth Harmony and Alessia Cara, who are now among the biggest names in the music industry.

The six sibling Filipino-Polish American group from Baltimore was among the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day performers this year. JAGMAC is an acronym from the first letter of the four brothers and two sisters’ names: Jared, Angelique, Gabriel, Manjo, Alyssa and CJ.

Photo from Instagram/@jagmacmusic

The Patalinghug siblings were all born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and are known for their catchy choruses, stunning vocals and remarkable dance routines. They sing, dance, co-write all their songs, choreograph their own moves and play musical instruments including the guitar, piano, bass and drums. Every member of the group also holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and are world champions in Eskrima, a Filipino martial art.

AJPress photo by Troi Santos

Born half-Filipino and half-Polish to parents Carlos and Alicia, the members of JAGMAC grew up in Baltimore’s Brooklyn neighborhood.

According to Baltimore Sun, their father gave each sibling the same two life requirements early on: “I told each of them — you have to go to church on Sunday and get your black belt,” said Carlos Patalinghug, who owns and teaches at the martial arts training center Kick Connection in Pasadena.

“Still not over about what happened this weekend at the US Open,” the group posted on their Instagram account. “Last year, we were talking to each other about how we wanted to perform inside the stadium, and now, we opened up the US Open! Words cannot express how grateful we are.”  

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the Executive Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at [email protected].

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