Next for cuppers: powerhouse Thailand

By Olmin Leyba, The Philippine Star

New team equipped to fight tough rivals

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines – The Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippine Davis Cup hurdled the first stumbling block in its quest for promotion to the top tier of the Asia Oceania zone – Group II first-round opposition Syria – and now looks ahead to the next part of the mission.

The Pinoy Cuppers had secured the first-round tie with Syria Saturday night at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa when they collared win No. 3 via Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales’ 6-0, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 disposal of Issam Taweel and Marc Abdelnour, rendering yesterday’s reverse singles mere consolation matches.

Next up for Phl will be regional rival Thailand, which beat Kuwait, 3-1, in their own side of the duel. The Philippines will also host the next tie on April 5-7.

“It (Syria tie) is a good test for us, playing against a team that’s not too strong but not too weak. Serves as morale booster (heading to the next tie),” said Phl non-playing captain Roland Kraut.

Johnny Arcilla, the designated player No. 2, gave the Filipino Cuppers a strong headstart with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 triumph over Syria’s top player Taweel in the opening singles. Gonzales, now carrying the cudgels as Phl No. 1, followed it up with a 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-2 victory over Abdelnour to put the hosts in a good position to clinch it in the doubles.

“That’s what we wanted all along, advancing to the next round,” said Huey, describing it as a “great week” for the Pinoys.

Kraut said Thailand is a strong team, especially if world No. 159 Danai Udomchoke and twins Sonchat and Sanchai Ratiwatana will all suit up.

Fil-Am doubles specialist Huey feels the current Cebuana Lhuillier-Phl team is equipped to compete against the best in the region now.

“I think this team is good. Everyone’s gotten better over the last year or two and we’re ready to contend with all the teams in Asia, even the big teams,” he said of the pool that includes Elbert Anasta, Francis Casey Alcantara and Jeson Patrombon.

“We have a good pool of six men to choose from. Anyone can play in the singles, and that’s a good problem for us,” said Kraut.

The Phl-Syria Davis Cup tie is supported by Smart Sports, Cebuana Lhuillier, Yonnex, Jober, Philippine Sports Commission, Jober Electronics, and Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.


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