PH takes doubles, bags Davis Cup tie vs Syria

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LAPU-LAPU CITY—While the rest of the team hit some balls at Plantation Bay clay courts Saturday afternoon, Treat Huey, who also fancies golf, practiced his short game in a nearby pitch and putt area.

The Filipino Davis Cup star seemed sharp on the putting surface as he easily buried a 10-footer.

By sundown, the 27-year-old lefty was in his favorite playing ground, making things look easy in partnership with Ruben Gonzales as they combined perfectly in a 6-0, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 win over Syians Issam Taweel and Marc Abdelnuor to give the Filipinos an unbeatable 3-0 lead in their Asia-Oceania Davis Cup Group 2 tie .

“We are confident of winning this tie but we didn’t expect it to be quick,” said non-playing team captain Roland Kraut. “It’s a good test for the team because Syria is not too strong and at the same time not too weak.”

Johnny Arcilla opened the campaign with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2, win over Taweel in Friday’s opening singles before Gonzales followed suit with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 victory over Abdelnuor.

The Philippines advanced to the semifinal against either Thailand or Kuwait. The Thais led the series, 2-1 after the doubles match.

“I think we’ve gotten better the past year. It was a great win for us. We are ready to contend with all the teams in Asia,” said Huey.

The Philippines needs to win two more ties this year to move up to the elite Group 1 where the country competed in 2010 and 2011.

Organizers said the next tie on April 5 to 7 may also be held in Plantation Bay which constructed an international standard clay courts and lighting facilities that impressed the Syrian team and even ITF referee David Smith.

“I’ve been to at least 45 ties across Asia and I could say what they prepared here was something I didn’t see anywhere else,” Smith said.

Resort owner Manny Gonzales said they are willing to host the tie once again in line with their thrust to promote sports-tourism in this part of the country.

After Huey and Gonzales went two sets up Saturday night, Syria appeared to have recovered, scoring a break in the sixth game for 4-2 lead.

Forcing the Filipino to the baseline and charging the net, the Syrian later broke Gonzales to secure the third set.

Goaded by the huge cheering crowd that included tourists from as far as Russia and the Czech Republic, Huey and Gonzales quickly went back to business in the fourth set, breaking their rivals in the opening game and sustaining their momentum till the end.

They broke the Syrians again, this time at love, for 5-2 and immediately took a 40-0 lead in the sixth game. After two double faults, Gonzales redeemed himself with a forehand winner down the line as the gallery erupted in cheers while the Queen’s “We Are The Champion” blared from the arena sound system.

The Philippines earlier lost at the same Plantation court both its two Davis Cup ties in 2011 to Japan and Chinese Taipei.

Gonzales replaced doubles original nominee Elbert Anasta at the last minute while Abdelnuor also substituted for Salim Madji.

The event, 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.

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