"I hope she makes it to the finals and if she makes it, I hope she wins the U.S. Open." This is the birthday wish of Filipino fan Titas Oliveros for Fil-Canadian rising star Leylah Fernandez who turned 19 on Monday.
On Sunday, Fernandez took down another top seed at the 2021 U.S. Open in New York City, beating three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber at the Women's Singles, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2. This came just days after Fernandez eliminated reigning U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka.
For Washington state resident Timothy Noonan, the unseeded Pinay "got an incredible future in front of her. She has a ton of star power, strength, [and] personality. She's got it all."
Meanwhile, Allan Durante, a fan from Connecticut, hailed how Filipinos have been conquering various sports. "[Leylah] will be our future," he said. Durante's remarks were echoed by Lee Esteban, development director at the Filipino Canadian Tennis Association of Saskatchewan.
"It's not just Manny Pacquiao now, but we also have Leylah Fernandez," Esteban noted. "She's really putting the sport of tennis, and Filipinos in professional sports, in the light."
Esteban is just one of many tennis fans in Canada who closely followed Fernandez's two recent matches. They believe the Pinay's victories will inspire a lot of girls to follow their dreams.
"She's gonna inspire a lot of new young generation -- not only Filipino [but] Asian Canadian tennis players. And the impact that she's going to have on the sport is gonna resonate," Esteban predicts.
Tennis enthusiast Marc Gacura shares that he himself learned how to play tennis at a young age, but he did not believe that he could compete on the world stage. Meanwhile, he is optimistic Fernandez can make it to the U.S. Open finals. "The fact that she is a lefty, which provides a big advantage when it comes to tactics and strategy, I think she has a good shot of making it to the finals," Gacura said.
On Tuesday, Fernandez will face fifth seed Elina Svitolina from Ukraine for a semifinal berth. -- With reports from Don Tagala and Rowena Papasin.