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Mamiit pairings settle for 2 silvers

By Musong R. Castillo
Inquirer
First Posted 22:29:00 12/15/2007

Filed Under: Southeast Asian Games, Tennis

NAKHON RATCHASIMA--The Thais had the last laugh in tennis, but Cecil Mamiit did not go down without a fight.

Sonchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana, twins who have played doubles tennis all their lives, manhandled Mamiit and Eric Taino Saturday in the 24th Southeast Asian Games finals that had the hometown gallery dancing in glee.

The Thais posted a 6-2, 6-4 victory in 65 minutes as Mamiit-Taino lost for the second time to the Thai siblings here--and third overall counting their first meeting in the doubles final of the 2005 Manila Games.

Sonchai returned a few minutes later to power his second-seeded partnership with Napaporn Tongsalee to an exciting 6-4, 7-6 (3) decision of Mamiit and Denise Dy in the mixed doubles finals.

That twin thunder left the Philippines with just one tennis gold medal in these Games.

Thailand actually swept all doubles finals, with the Tongsalee-Tamarine Tanasugarn tandem easily prevailing over the Indonesian pair of Wynne Tedjakusuma and Sandy Gumulya, 6-2, 6-3.

Ratiwatana-Tongsalee encountered tough challenge from the Filipinos, as Mamiit forced the action on several occasions to put the Philippine pair ahead, 2-1, in the second set.

But the Thai pair slowly regained cohesion, especially in long rallies, to send the set into tiebreak, eventually prevailing after one hour and 21 minutes.

Thailand thus wrested the second of three gold medals from the Philippines, which ruled this event through Taino's partnership with Riza Zalameda in 2005.

Mamiit's lone gold in men's singles saved the RP squad from a shutout at His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Anniversary center court here. The Filipinos also won the men's team event in the Manila Games.

Mamiit-Taino, which played together for just the second tournament this year, scored an early break and enjoyed a 2-1 lead in the first. They also served for 3-love in the second.

But both leads didn't stand a chance against the perfectly synchronized twins.

Mamiit was serving for a two-game lead at 30-0 in the first set when the Thais broke back.

The 31-year-old Mamiit, who silenced a bigger gallery with a 6-3, 6-0 destruction of Thai ace Danai Udomchoke in the singles finals on Friday, broke the Thais again in the first game of the second set, scoring on a forehand winner that zipped in between the twins.

But the Thais slowly worked their way back, as Taino double-faulted at 2-all. The match went to serve in the first nine games until Mamiit put two forehand passing shots into the net to yield matchpoint to the Thais.

A Sonchai backhand clipped the net slightly and rolled over, denying Taino a chance to reach it, for the match.



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