ALBERTO LIM Jr., still smoking from his back-to-back title victories last week, fought off Ronan Joncour of France, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, in the scorching heat yesterday at the start of the 24th Mitsubishi Lancer international junior championships at Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
The 13-year-old from Sampaloc, Manila, put away Joncour, 16, in one hour and 15 minutes and set up a second-round match with Duck Lee of South Korea, the world No. 79 who drew a bye.
The Filipino wild card, who is ranked 407th in the world, joined seventh seed and world No. 54 Jurence Zosimo Mendoza, who also took a bye, as the only local boys still standing in the tournament.
Mendoza will take on today French qualifier Alexandre Muller, who got past world No. 84 Kang Ku-keon of Korea, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
The country’s strongest hope in girls’ singles made an early exit, though, as Marian Jade Capadocia bowed to Mexican Cassandra Vazquez, 5-7, 1-6, late in the afternoon.
Also failing to advance further in the world-ranking event for players 18 years and younger were Dave Mosqueda who lost to Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam, 2-6, 0-6; Betto Orendain who yielded to Alexander Klintcharov of New Zealand, 4-6, 2-6; Andrew Joshua Cano who bowed to Akira Santillan of Australia, 2-6, 3-6; Eric Olivarez Jr., who gave way to Jamie Malik of Britain, 1-6, 4-6; and Marcen Angelo Gonzales who lost to Lee Kuan-yi of Chinese Taipei, 3-6, 4-6.
No Filipino has ever won a boys’ singles title in the tournament, the longest-running ITF Grade 1 event in the Philippines.
Filipinos, though, have won the girls’ title five times, the last in 1997 when Maricris Fernandez triumphed alongside a young superstar named Lleyton Hewitt, who ruled the boys’ singles.
Francis Casey Alcantara shared the boys’ doubles crown in 2009 and 2010 with partners Daniel Berta of Sweden and Raymond Sarmiento of the United States, respectively.
Boys top seed Borna Coric of Croatia, ranked sixth in the world, drew a first-round bye and will take on Thailand’s Krittin Koaykul, who ousted Japanese Toshiki Matsuya, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).