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Philippine Davis Cup Teammate

Bien Dimalanta 1949 - 2014

Photo courtesy of A.Marcial

June 29, 2014 ITS Staff Los Angeles, California USA – With great sadness, a good friend, teammate, tennis partner, and mentor of the tennis community has left the building.

 

Former Philippines Davis Cup player Bien Dimalanta passed away last May 27 in Los Angeles, California of natural causes. Dimalanta was 65.

 

Bien competed nationally in the juniors in the mid-1960s and became one of the country’s representatives in international events in the professional Asian Tennis Circuit and the Davis Cup competition in the 70’s. The always-amiable Bien helped mentor junior players in the Philippines in the 1980s before settling in the United States. 

 

In early 1970s, playing along the country’s top tennis talents led by Alex Marcial, Eddie Cruz, Macky Dominguez, Ramon Funtera, and Romeo Rafon, the lefty Dimalanta belonged to a generation of enthusiastic young players that led the growth of tennis in the 1970s and 1980s in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

 

The “Baby-Boomers” had very big shoes to fill after world-class Filipino players two-time French Open Singles Quarter-finalist Felicisimo Ampon, Asian Games Singles Gold Medalists Raymundo Deyro and Juan “Johnny” Jose, had just finished making their mark during the post-war era in the 1950’s and mid-1960’s.

Bien was a participant of the inaugural ATP World Tour’s Asian Tennis Circuit tournament in Djakarta, Indonesia in 1973. In 1974, Bien played against then World No.1 John Newcombe the 1973 Australian Open and 1973 U.S. Open champion, in the first round of the $50,000 Philippine International Tennis Classic.

 

A frequent Manila visitor, Newcombe led a talented Aussie group in the likes of Ross Case and partner Geoff Masters (2-time Australian Open champions), Sydney Ball, John Bartlett, Paul Kronk. Bien’s age-group also included Ramon Villarete, Rodolfo Gabriel, a member of the Southeast Asian Gold Medalist team (w. Marcial, Manuel Valleramos); Aureo Cambel and Perfecto Alina (U.S. scholar-athletes), and Rod Rafael.

1973 World No.1 John Newcombe and 1973 Wimbledon Champion Jan Kodes during the US Open finals in 1973. Photo by Douglas Perry blog.oregonlive.com

Together with world-ranked Cruz and Marcial, Dimalanta saw action in Djakarta, Hong Kong and Manila international tournaments. Participants also included world-class players Jurgen Fassbender and Hans Pohmann of Germany, and Czechoslovakia’s No.2 player Milan Holecek.

 

Bien recalls one of his best wins on the tour was in the doubles event when he paired with good friend and former Philippines No.1 Marcial at the Milo International Tennis Championships in Manila. They went on to defeat compatriot RP No.1 Cruz and Holecek to advance deep in the week’s event.

 

Earlier in the season, Holecek had paired with compatriot Jan Kodes, the 1973 Wimbledon Singles champion, to defeat multi-Grand Slam titlists Newcombe and Tony Roche in the finals of Hamburg International in Germany.

Bien, 2nd from left, taking time with tennis pals Jesty Salvo, Butch Umali, and Alex Marcial in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of A.Marcial

In the 1980s, Dimalanta was one of the first players to establish a junior development program for the country at the Philippine Columbian Association tennis facilities in Manila.

 

Other "tennis elders" he worked and associated with were gurus Cecil Mella and Willie Hernandez Jr.. He helped mentor Philippines former No.1 Dyan Castillejo, sister Jackie; and former Davis Cup player and No.1 Roland So,

 

He also helped organize a professional tennis circuit in the Philippines and promoted sport-tourism when he partnered with a leading hotel chain to host world-class players from Europe, U.S. and Australia in 1981 and 1982.

The event saw world-ranked players participate such as Mexico’s Davis Cup player Marcelo Lara, Switzerland’s Markus Guenthardt, Hungary’s Zoltan Kuharsky, Israel’s Steve Krulevitz, and Australian Alvin Gardiner all belonging to the ATP Top 100 elite players .

 

"Bien was like a brother to me. He was my partner on and off the courts, it was really a privilege practicing, competing, travelling and just hanging out with him. He will be missed dearly," said former Philippine No.1 player Alex Marcial.

 

"Bien's life ended so early and I cannot put in words how much I will miss him. It is hard to understand why tragic things happen to some good people. However, that is a question without an answer. Even though he is not here anymore, his memory will live on,in all of us forever. Bien, I appreciate your friendship and I will miss you..." added Marcial.

 

A memorial "Celebration of Bien's Life" will be held at Four Seasons Lodge at Beaumont on July 6th 2014. Venue address: 1518 Four Seasons Circle, Beaumont CA 92223 Tel: 951-769-6358 c/o Mr. & Mrs. Romy and Rory Villena.

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