Phil Star – Gonzales out to fire up Phl vs. Thai No. 2

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 5, 2013 - 12:00am

LAPU LAPU CITY, Cebu, Philippines – The Philippines hopes to come out strong behind top player Ruben Gonzales, who faces Thai No. 2 player Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul in the opening singles today of the Davis Cup Group 2 Asia/Oceania tie at the clay courts of the Plantation Bay Spa and Resort here.

Johnny Arcilla, listed as the country’s No. 2, comes out next for Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippine team as he squares off with Danai Udomchoke in a duel of veteran campaigners beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Australian Open juniors doubles gold medalist Francis Casey Alcantara and world No. 27 doubles player Treat Huey see action in the doubles against the teen pair of Nuttanon Kadchapanan and Pruchya Isarow at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

“We are prepared for any draw, but this is good,’’ said the Philippines’ non-playing captain Roland Kraut. “We are facing a young bunch of players whom I saw play in the juniors last February at Rizal Memorial. They are young but they have the patience to play in this kind of surface.”

Mayor Paz Radaza drew Gonzales’ name from the lot in short rites at the Alcatraz Ballroom of the resort graced by ITF referee Nittin Kannamwar of India, Philippine Tennis Association secretary general Romeo Magat, Philta vice president Randy Villanueva and Plantation Bay general manager Efren Belarmino.

Udomchoke, the team’s leader at 31 and the highest-ranked at No. 207 in the world, said he believes in his young squad despite playing against a home team on a surface of their choice.

“Hopefully it’s a close match, we are a young team and playing against the Philippines in their home court can be very tough,” said Udomchoke, a former SEA Games and Asian Games gold medal winner. “But I believe in my young teenagers. If we lose this is still a good experience for them, and would help them in the long term.”

But Arcilla, who won four straight local tournaments on clay courts, said they can’t be too complacent against the untested Thai team, saying Udomchoke can spell the difference.

“I will try to keep the game close and if I had the chance I will go for it,” said the 33-year-old Arcilla, “I saw him (Udomchoke) play many times before but haven’t played him yet. I know he’s not used to playing on clay which is a good thing because on hard courts I wouldn’t be able to see his shots.”

Gonzales, 27, said they are confident of winning the tie judging from the twice-daily practice sessions they had under searing heat. “We all had a good preparation and the team is pumped up.”

For his part, Huey said they are playing well and are confident of their chances. “But Thailand is a tough team so it’s going to be an exciting tie,” he said.

Backing the event are Cebuana Lhuillier, Smart Communications and Yonex.


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