Philippine Davis Cup squad falls behind, 0-2, to New Zealand | Inquirer Sports

Philippine Davis Cup squad falls behind, 0-2, to New Zealand

/ 06:59 PM July 08, 2011

Cecil Mamiit and Ruben Gonzales dropped their opening matches as New Zealand stormed to a 2-0 lead against the Philippines in their Davis Cup Group 1 Asia/Oceania relegation tie in TSB Hub, Hawera, New Zealand Friday.

Mamiit dragged the home team’s top player Michael Venus to a marathon five setter before bowing, 6-7 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, in the second of the two opening singles, even as Jose Statham dealt the first blow after drubbing Ruben Gonzales, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

The Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippine Davis Cup team will have to score a win in Saturday’s doubles to stay alive in the tie. A loss will pull down the Filipinos to a relegation tie with Chinese Taipei in September where the loser slides to Group 2.

Gonzales and Johnny Arcilla are listed to play in doubles against Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell.

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Team manager Jean Henri Lhuillier expressed confidence that the PH netters can pull it off, saying “I believe in the fighting spirit of the Filipinos. We can still make it.”

The Filipinos dropped the opening rubbers to Japan last March in Lapu Lapu City, but stayed in contention when Mamiit and Treat Huey took the doubles. Philippines eventually lost the tie, 3-1.

But this time, Huey won’t be around as he chose to compete in the Campbell’s Hall of Fames championships where he and partner Ryan Sweeting exited in the first round of play.

The Philippines holds a 3-1 head-to-head lead against New Zealand, including victories in the last two ties held in Manila in 2009 and Auckland in 2007.

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But New Zealand shaped up for Group 1 competition this year, parading world-ranked players in Venue (325th), Statham (524th), Sitak (378th) and Daniell (882). In contrast, there are only two world ranked players in the roster, Gonzales (830th) and Jeson Patrombon (1378th).

After Mamiit forged a decider by taking the fourth set, the match went on serve until the 23-year-old Venus broke in the 7th game for 4-3.

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Venus held serve and broke the 35-year-old Filipino in the next two games to wrap up the match that lasted four and half hours.

The Philippines, which last reached World Group playoffs in 1991, is looking at staying at Group 1 for a third straight year.

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TAGS: Cecil Mamiit, Davis Cup, JESON PATROMBON, Johnny Arcilla, New Zealand, Ruben Gonzales, Sports, Tennis

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