Chezka Centeno is all focused at the pool table. Photo: Chris Tew / SINGSOC
Do not be deceived by her young looks. Chezka Centeno makes a playground out of the billiard table. This 15-year-old girl, from Zamboanga City, Philippines, won Gold in the Women's 9-Ball Pool Singles after beating her idol Rubilen Amit -- twice her age -- in an All-Filipina finals showdown with a score of 7-5. Chezka became the youngest ever billiards player to win a Gold medal in SEA Games 2015.
“I am just very proud of Chezka. At her young age, she has already achieved a lot. She’s a fighter and for me, the future of billiards is very secure,” said Amit after the victory ceremony.
Rodolfo Luat, who coaches both Centeno and Amit, was all smiles after the event. “I am just happy we had a 1-2 finish getting both Gold and Silver,” said Luat. He was extra careful before the game as to which player he should mentor, not wanting the other player to get jealous.
Both Chezka’s parents, Mr. Fausto Albert Centeno and Mrs. Josephine Centeno, were there to witness her performance. “We are very proud of her and we are just here to give our all-out support.”
Chezka with her parents and compatriot Rubilen Amit. Photo: Jaime Padilla / SINGSOC
When asked how she became good at this sport, Mr. Centeno remarked, "She started as young as five years old. Since she was still short then, she would use a beer case as a step-ladder to reach the table. In fact, she learned billiards before she learned how to write!”
Chezka is the sixth of seven children. Her potential was discovered at age eight when she played in local tournaments in the family’s hometown. At the age of 11, she joined the Philippine National Games and finished third. And when she was 12, she was invited to the Kremlin Cup in Russia and reached the Top 32 spot. After the national team recruited her, they sent her to Taiwan for the Asian Pocket Billiard Union event and she was declared champion under the girls’ singles category.
Chezka Centeno, currently ranked 39 in the world, is a name that has surely made an impression on her opponents. We should all keep a keen watch on the potential and achievements of this kid. Indeed, she has a bright future ahead of her.
This author of this article is a volunteer content producer with Team Nila. For more content produced by Team Nila, please head to the 28th SEA Games Social Wall.