Capitol Tennis Court: Shall we call it “Gov. Gen. Dwight Davis Tennis Court”?

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Capitol Tennis Court: Shall we call it “Gov. Gen. Dwight Davis Tennis Court”?

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The Province of Bohol is emphasizing tourism as it main industry.  Heritage buildings are being restored including the present Provincial Capitol Building that was constructed in 1855 with Esteban Butalid (Note: Grandfather of Gov. Rolando Butalid) as the contractor.

At the left side of the Capitol Building is the Capitol Tennis Court. I write this article to inform the Boholanos that this tennis court has some significance to international tennis.

Gov. Gen. Dwight Davis                 

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Dwight F. Davis served as the American Governor General of the Philippines in the years 1929 to 1932.

In 1930 he came to Tagbilaran, Bohol.  Unfortunately I have misplaced the picture I obtained from research, of his arrival at the Capitol Building.

Last Wednesday, March 2, 2016.  Inquirer columnist Ambeth Ocampo wrote that Gov. Gen. Davis was the same Dwight Davis that started the International Davis Cup in tennis.

Historical Antecedents

In my book “Bohol: From Spanish Yoke to American Harness (1998)”, I have pictures of the Capitol Building in 1912.  To the right side (facing the plaza) was the Escuela de Niñas (Girls School) and to the left side was the Escuela de Niños (Boys School).  The Girls School still exists today as the Bohol Museum.  The Boys School was demolished in 1957 to give way for the Philippine National Bank building.

In 1920 the Provincial Hospital (Now: Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital) was constructed with the instance of Congressman Celestino Gallares.

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Soon a tennis court was constructed at the back of the hospital building.  It was there where the elite and upper class of Bohol and Tagbilaran played tennis.  It was more or less an exclusive domain of the elite.  (Note: The concrete pavement still exists but it is no longer used as a tennis court.)

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The younger generation and the general public also wanted to play tennis.  However, they have no venue.  So they clamored for another tennis court.

So the open space between the Escuela de Niños and the Capitol Building was paved with concrete and made into a tennis court sometime in 1930.

Inauguration or Dedication?

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In the year 1930 there was a worldwide economic depression.  The American administration in the Philippines was also affected.  All salaries of government employees were cut in half.  Where was the construction funds sourced from?

If it came from the national funds, it was understandable because Gov. Davis was a great promoter of lawn tennis.

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When Gov. Gen. Davis visited the Capitol Building in 1930, I could not tell whether he inaugurated the new tennis court or just made a dedication ceremony.  The picture has only the caption “Visit of Gov. Gen. Davis”.

Be that as it may, Gov. Davis, the originator of the “International Davis Cup” in tennis, must have inspired the Boholanos because soon after, many Tagbilaranons and Boholanos became good tennis players.  They were competing already in the national level.

Many young men from Tagbilaran, Bohol earned their college degrees in Manila schools through “tennis scholarships”.  A good example was the late Engr. Justiniano “Ondoy” Gonzaga who earned his Electrical Engineering degree from the Mapua Institute of Technology by playing tennis.  In 1976 when I started playing tennis, I met Engr. Gonzaga who was still a good tennis player even in his non-young age.  He can still dish out his unique serve that he called his “pamugás” or bread and butter serve.

It was an underhand serve that will cause the ball to swerve left or right upon landing in the opposite court.  If the receiver is caught unaware, he could not return the serve.

Comment

It is worthwhile to know that the Capitol Tennis court has a historical value.  It was personally visited by the person who started the “Davis Cup”.  I have yet to research if it was constructed through the instance of Gov. Davis.  This fact is valuable for tourism purposes.  It is much better ff we can associate the name of the tennis court to Gov. Gen. Dwight Davis. (By Jes B. Tirol)

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