Men’s tennis provides Asiad bright spot for PH
INCHEON, South Korea—The Philippine men’s tennis squad provided a bright spot for the country in the 17th Asian Games on Friday, winning its first match by outplaying Mongolia in the team event at Yeorumul Tennis Courts here.
Ruben Gonzales took time to warm up to singles form before hammering out a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Mongolia’s Badrakh Munkhbaatar on a quiet day for the Filipino delegation.
“I haven’t played singles for a while so it took a little time to find my game,” said Gonzales, a mainstay of the Philippine Davis Cup squad where he has concentrated on playing doubles with Treat Huey.
Munkhbaatar even scored the match’s first break, pushing Gonzales behind, 1-2, but the lanky Filipino struck back with a break of his own, before controlling long rallies and scoring the decisive points to finish off the Mongolian.
PJ Tierro also needed some time to figure out his opponent before sealing the deal for the Filipinos with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Erdenbayar Duurenbayar in the second singles match.
“His game had no pattern so it was hard to get into any groove,” said Tierro. “He was just serving really hard and it was difficult to make a return. At the start I really did not know what to do.”
As the match wore on, though, Tierro figured out his foe and waltzed past the Mongolian in the second set to reduce the doubles match featuring Treat Huey and Gonzales into a no-bearing contest.
“It’s always a good feeling to get that first win. The first match is always difficult,” said Tierro.
It was indeed a difficult first day of action for the Philippine delegation.
At Chungju Tangeum Lake Rowing Center, Benjie Tolentino failed in his bid to book an outright slot in the final of the lightweight men’s single sculls after placing fourth in his heat with a time of 7:37.05. In the doubles event, Edgar Ilas and Nestor Cordova also failed to crack the top two and fell out of the finals with a time of 6:54.52.
The three still have a slim chance of bagging a medal in Wednesday’s repechage, but will have to finish in the top two there to make it to the final.
At Gyeonggido Shooting Range, Hagen Topacio and Eric Ang found themselves buried deep in the standings of the men’s trap qualification. Topacio fired 65 points while Ang shot 63 to drop to 33rd and 40th, respectively, after two rounds in Day 1 of the event.
Day 2 of the qualification event gets going Sunday, when Topacio and Ang hope to make their climb up the standings.
The men’s tennis team also faces an uphill battle as they go up against Chinese Taipei, which drew a bye Saturday, in the second round of the team event.
“This time, we will be the underdogs,” said Tierro. “But we just want to take things one match at a time.”
Meanwhile, the country’s bowling team arrived Saturday and is expected to contribute to the country’s medal hunt when it takes the lanes Tuesday.
Bowlers Biboy Rivera and Liza del Rosario spearhead the team, which will have two full days to test the lanes here before rolling out their medal bid.
“Before coming here, we did all we could to be in top shape,” said the 40-year-old Rivera, a gold medalist in the singles event in the Guangzhou Asiad four years ago and the brightest hope for a podium finish this year. “But we are up against the best in the world. We are ready but in this sport, you never know. One slight mistake could cost you big.”
Rivera and Del Rosario will represent the Philippines in the prestigious World Cup in Poland in November.
The men’s team is also made up of Frederick Ong, Bonshir Layoso, and Asiad rookies Elirico Hernandez, Jo Mar Jumapao and Kenneth Chua.
Forming the women’s team with Del Rosario are veteran Liza Clutario, Krizziah Tabora, Marian Posadas and rookies Ana Marie Kiac and Marie Alexis Sy.
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