LAPU-LAPU CITY—Thirty-two-year-old Johnny Arcilla opens the Davis Cup campaign of the Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippines against Syria’s top player Issam Tawil while Ruben Gonzales tangles with Marc Abdelnuor in the opening singles of their Asia Oceania Group 2 tie today at Plantation Bay Resort and Spa here.
The tie departs from tradition with the first match commencing at 3:30 p.m. to allow a bigger crowd into the venue, which will be opened free to the public.
Tomorrow’s doubles will feature world No. 35 Treat Huey and Elbert Anasta against Abdelnuor and Majdi Salim at 6 p.m. Arcilla and Gonzales then switch foes in Sunday’s reverse singles, which also starts at 3:30 p.m.
The PCA Open champ for a record seventh time, Arcilla exuded confidence after the draw which he said favored the hosts because of, among other things, the clay-shell courts.
“This is my type of court,” said Arcilla, who first played for the country in 2000 and now owns a 26-20 win loss record in Cup play.
Tawil, 24, arrived only last Wednesday from Egypt, the birthplace of his mother. He and Abdelnuor play mostly in the ITF Futures tournaments in Europe and are based outside Syria. Also playing for Syria is Yacoub Makzoume
“We have found a way to adjust to the weather and surface. We had good practice since last Monday,” said Tawil (ranked 925th in the world in singles) after the draw held at the resort’s Alcatraz Function room.
ITF referee David Smith presided over the draw with city Mayor Paz Radaza picking the players.
Gonzales, the highest ranked Filipino at No. 823 in world singles, said he has not seen much of Abdelnuor’s matches but added he’s ready for anything.
The tie, sponsored by Cebuana Lhuillier, Smart Sports, Yonex, Jober Electronics for lighting, Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Daily Inquirer as media partner, can be viewed on YouTube via Philippine Tennis channel and Philta Facebook page.
Plantation Bay, led by its GM Efren Belarmino, hosted the teams to a Filipino Fiesta-inspired welcome dinner Wednesday night and to a Sahara-inspired dinner last night.