LAPU-LAPU CITY—Ruben Gonzales waited in the wings for three years. When the big break finally came, he passed it with flying colors.
Suddenly installed in the Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippine Davis Cup team as its top player, the 27-year-old from Terre Haute, Indiana, delivered with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 win over Syria’s Marc Abdelnuor Friday night to cap a 2-0 sweep by the host of the opening singles of Asia-Oceania Group 2 tie.
It was the first singles victory for Gonzales, who first made it to the country’s Davis Cup team in 2010 but spent most of the time on the bench as Cecil Mamiit and Huey carried the PH campaign on their shoulders.
“I’ve always wanted to play singles in Davis Cup and very thankful for the opportunity,” said Gonzales, who can complete his breakout performance by playing with Treat Huey in last night’s doubles match against Abdelnuor and Madji Salim, which was going on at presstime at Plantation Bay.
With the retirement of long-time leader Mamiit and with Huey focusing more on doubles, PH tennis went for Gonzales as its new main man.
“Yeah I feel better every match, and I guess as you grow older and the more tournaments you play, you gain a lot of confidence and experience,” added the 6-foot-2 power hitter, who, against Abdelnuor, also showed that he’s at home on a slow surface.
Gonzales has now improved his Davis Cup win-loss record to 3-4, scoring his two previous wins in doubles.
Going into the tie, Gonzales said he took up a regimen that included running to improve his stamina and leg power.
“The trainer put me up to 400-meter and 800-m runs, I guess it made me stronger though it makes me really tired,” said Gonzales. “It helped my agility and made me feel pretty fit.”
He played a tournament until mid-January in the United States, but added that even in the off-season he was focusing himself for the Syrian tie.
Now ranked 823rd in world singles and 310th in doubles, Gonzales, whose pro circuit campaign is bankrolled by Jean Henri Lhuillier, seems on the way to becoming the country’s next tennis ace.