The Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippine Davis Cup team will lean on an old, reliable squad when it goes against Syria in the first round of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 2 tie on Feb. 1-3 at Plantation Bay Spa and Resort in Lapu-Lapu City.
Veterans Treat Huey, Ruben Gonzales, Johnny Arcilla and Elbert Anasta will suit up for the PH team which will once again attempt to get into Group 1 after losing the promotional tie last year to Indonesia, 3-2.
Arcilla and Anasta are current leaders in local rankings after winning the last two tourneys held here. The 33-year-old Arcilla crowned himself as the Philippine Columbian Association Open men’s singles champion for a record 7th time, besting a heavy field that included Huey, Gonzales and former champ Marc Sieber.
The 30-year-old Anasta is making a comeback in the team on the strength of his Olivarez Cup championship. The Army personnel reached the PCA Open semis, beating Huey in the quarterfinals via a straight set win.
Huey and Gonzales, both 27 years old, have been the pillars of the team since Cecil Mamiit retired two years ago.
Syria, which swept its round-robin opponents to climb out of Group 3, has yet to announce its lineup although it is expected to parade top player Madji Salim and doubles partner Amer Naow. It is also likely to utilize Marc Abdelnuor who is a Canadian passport holder, and Issam Taweel who has an Egytian passport.
With dual citizenships, Abdelnuor and Taweel managed to play last year. The Philippines has yet to employ Sieber, who has yet to obtain PH passport because dual citizenship is not allowed in Germany.
Also included in the 2012 lineup for Syria are player Yacoub Makzoume, team captain Feras Dahbos and team manager Wassim Zinnia.
The country, ranked 44th, needs to win the tie to book a semis duel with either Kuwait or Thailand in April, possibly in the Philippines. It’s going to be the first time Philippines will face Syria in a tie with the host as heavy favorite. Syria last reached second round of Group 2 in 1988.
The tie was supposed to be held in Syria but the International Tennis Federation handed the hosting to the Philippines because of peace and order concerns.