MANILA – The Philippine Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) is gearing up for two international tournaments, including one that the country will be hosting in October.

PTTF President Ting Ledesma said a 10-member team, including five women, will compete in the Asian Championships set on Sept. 3-30 in Pyeongchang, South Korea while the youth team will join the World Table Tennis (WTT) Youth Contender tournament from Oct. 15 to 21 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Filipino No. 1 Kheith Rhynne Cruz won two gold medals at the SEA Junior Championships in Brunei last month.

The 16-year-old Cruz defeated Thai Wirakarn Tayapitak, 11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3, in the Under-17 final. She collected her second gold medal in the Under-19 doubles, teaming up with Chrishien Mae Santillan to beat Wirakarn and Wanwisa Aueawiriyayothin, 11-2, 11-9, 11-7.

Cruz also bagged the team silver medal with Althea Jade Gudes, Jelaine Monteclaro, Zachi Chua and Santillan, a bronze medalist in the U-19 singles category.

Keith’s younger brother, Mhelvin, won the silver medal at the WTT event last year, and was given a scholarship in France. The siblings will lead the team in Palawan.

“We’re happy to say that table tennis is getting better. The recent success of our national team abroad has a big impact especially on the youth,” Ledesma said during the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports, Inc. (TOPS) ‘Usapang Sports’ forum at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Conference Room inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Malate, Manila on Thursday.

The PTTF is among the national sports associations which taps private sponsors for funding the national team’s training and competitions.

“We understand that the PSC is supporting many sports. We’re proud to say that through the years, we are not solely dependent on the PSC,” Ledesma said in the weekly session supported by Behrouz Persian Cuisine and Pocari Sweat.

“We don’t have a problem with the PSC. But to speed up the process of our participation, I just look for someone to help. After that, I ask for reimbursement complete with all receipts. If I’m lucky to get the money back, thank you very much. If not, it’s okay,” he added.

Ledesma also expressed his gratitude to Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, who agreed to host the World Table Tennis (WTT) Youth Contender featuring 30 teams.

“I wholeheartedly thank Mayor Bayron for supporting the PTTF and assuring the successful hosting of the WTT event,” he said. (PNA)