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Davis Cup

Philippines stranded in Group II anew

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For the fourth straight year, the Philippine Davis Cup team could not get over the hump.

The strong Thai doubles tandem of Sonchai and Sanchat Ratiwatana flexed their muscles and swept Filipinos PJ Tierro and Jeson Patrombon in three sets, Saturday afternoon at The National Tennis Development Center, Nonthaburi, Thailand.

The world-ranked hosts used their effectiveness on service to pummel the Filipinos in the first set at 6-1.

Tierro and Patrombon turned aggressive in the following set and registered strong numbers on the first serve of both teams. Nonetheless, the Ratiwatanas took the second with a solitary break advantage at 6-4. The Thais then returned to their impeccable service and closed out the match at 6-2.

The reverse dead rubbers will be played tomorrow, with Patrombon expected to face Wichaya Trongcharoenchaikul, while AJ Lim closes the tie against Jirat Navasirisomboon.

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Davis Cup

Thailand buries Philippines to 0-2 hole in semis

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Top Southeast Asian side Thailand buried the Philippines to a huge 0-2 hole, as AJ Lim and Jeson Patrombon absorbed losses in the opening day of the 2017 Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group II second tie, Friday evening at the National Tennis Development Center, Nonthanburi, Thailand.

Reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player Lim fought hard against Wichaya Trongcharoenchaikul, but fell short in three sets, 6-7, 4-6, 3-6. The 21-year-old Thai had some problems with his first-serve percentage in the opening set. However, when the hometown stalwart got his groove, he peppered the younger Filipino with aces.

In the second singles match, Patrombon started well as he held on to his service games en route to a 6-2 win in the first set.

However, when Jirat Navasirisomboon made a run on his own serves in the second set, the Thai pulled off a win in tiebreak. The 21-year-old then used this momentum to finish off the returning Patrombon in two 6-1 sets.

The Philippines needs to win the doubles match tomorrow to keep their campaign alive. PJ Tierro and Jeson Patrombon will face world-ranked Sanchai at Sonchat Ratiwatana.

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Davis Cup

AJ Lim relishes UE’s maiden title, bares future plans

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Behind the spotlight given to UAAP’s televised sports, the tennis tournament has had its fair share of phenoms

The sport has seen an influx of teen sensations who have made an immediate impact on their first (and to some, only) year in the league. Some even stamped their class with undefeated records, such as Season 76 Rookie of the Year Jurence Mendoza and Season 74 awardee Leander Lazaro.

Thus, it is no surprise to have the current top juniors player in the country bulldoze his opponents. Alberto Lim Jr. is no stranger to high expectations.

The 17-year-old was, they say, the missing piece of the University of the East’s title aspirations. And after 12 ties, he indeed fulfilled the promise.

“Sa totoo lang po talaga, yung teammates ko, whether andito ko or wala ako, tingin ko kaya naman nila,” the Davis Cup campaigner shared moments after UE’s win last Wednesday.

“Ang tingin ko na na-[contribute] ko lang sa kanila eh yung kaya ko silang i-push. Yung mga experiences ko abroad ina-apply, tinutulungan ko po sila para talagang swertehin kami.”

The championship is but the fruit of the hard work put in by the team’s coaches, headed by Numero Lim, AJ’s elder brother. And for the younger sibling, it was a sigh of relief.UAAP Men's Tennis FINALS - UE vs UST - AJ Lim-6066

“Sa UAAP kasi hindi mo nan makukuha lahat ng players. Rebuilding talaga siya, recruiting talaga,” the native of Matatalaib, Tarlac said.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa coaches lalo na kay coach Roel Licayan, kay coach Fritz [Verdad], at sa kuya ko, na nagsipag silang mag-recruit ng player at ibigay nila yung pangangailangan ng players.”

The youngest of the current Davis Cup squad admitted that taking their maiden title had not been an easy task. “Hirap rin sa pakiramdam namin mentally kasi hindi pa kami nagcha-champion, so talagang pinush namin. Nakuha namin yung rhythm namin, nag-champion kami,” he shared.

By doing one better than Mendoza and Lazaro — taking the title along with his team — Lim Jr. walked away with the Most Valuable Player trophy.

With such talent, it is not a shocker that the current King of UAAP Tennis has lured US schools to invite him. “Meron po pero tinitignan ko yung possibilities. Hindi po closed book yun. Hindi ko rinbpo masasabing dito na ko sa UE permanently,” the phenom shared.

“Mahirap pong tanggihan yung offers sa US kasi magaganda po facilities dun. At the same time, yung caliber ng players dun iba. For now, magfo-focus muna ako sa tennis career ko.”

Nonetheless, between now and the decision of whether or not Lim Jr. moves on to the States, there is more to be done. He laid down his plans and said, “May Davis Cup ako sa Thailand. Mag-start na ako ng professional career ko. Hopefully, masali pa rin ako sa Grand Slam sa juniors.”2017 Davis Cup PHI vs INA - Lim vs Susanto4

All of this depends on his bosses’ decisions, especially on a possible stint on the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.

“Hangga’t wala pong sinasabi sa kin mga bossing ko sa PSC, training lang ng training. Pero pag kinuha po nila ko sa SEA Games, why not?”

The promise of the first title might have been fulfilled, but the bigger promise presented by the talent of the tennis Red Phenom has just begun.

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Davis Cup

Philippines takes on Thailand in semifinals

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The Philippine Davis Cup team takes on neighbors Thailand

After defeating Indonesia last weekend in their opener, 4-1, the RP Davis Cup team will travel to Thailand on April 7-9 for their semifinals tilt against the Thais.

Thailand, the number two seed in the bracket, was able to advance after Kuwait, 3-1, in Mishref, Kuwait. The Thai team is composed of Jirat Navasirisomboon, Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul, and brothers Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana (ATP Doubles Ranking: 91).2017 Davis Cup - Philippine vs Indonesia - Treat Huey

The Philippines hold a 4-2 lead in all-time head-to-head matches against Thailand. The last time the two countries met was in 2015 with the Nationals winning 4-1 during the Group II Asia/Oceania Semifinal held in Plantation Bay in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

It is still unknown whether the core of Treat Huey, Nino Alcantara, AJ Lim, and Ruben Gonzales will represent the team.

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Davis Cup

Ruben Gonzales serves up a sweep, sends Philippines to semis

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The Philippine Davis Cup team is back in familiar territory.

Long-time Davis Cup campaigner and circuit veteran Ruben Gonzales overpowered a tired David Susanto in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to send the Philippines back to the semifinals of the 2017 Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group II tie, Sunday afternoon at the Philippine Columbian Association.

Gonzales started strong, proceeding to take the early double break with a mix of great serving and on-point backhand returns. With confidence, the veteran broke the visitor’s serve to clinch the match.

The Filipino continually pounced on Susanto in the following set, before the Indonesian had to pluck a service ace to keep himself at the frame at 3-5. Nonetheless, Gonzales was too solid on his service game to eventually close out the set.

The visiting squad got some lease for life after getting its first break of the Philippine serve to get to a 3-2 lead.

“I think he was getting a little tired so I tried to become more aggressive, trying to shorten up the points,” Gonzales admitted. “I was confident that if it goes longer, I will win either way.”

Gonzales tried to mix it up and shorten the rallies, which backfired in some stretches. However, being the veteran that he is, the 31-year-old found a way to win at the end, leaning on his powerful serve to finish off Susanto.

“No, I just tried to take it one point at a time; not to get ahead of yourself,” he shared if he felt any pressure going into the contest.

The Nationals will face either Thailand or Kuwait, which are playing as well as of this writing, in the next round. The other Southeast Asian side currently leads that tie at 2-1.

“Our team prepared thoroughly for this tie and it all paid off,” said team manager Jean Henri Lhuillier.

“The past few days have shown how determined we are to play our way back to the Davis Cup Asia-Ocenia Group 1 and with this victory, we’re right on track towards that goal.”

In the dead rubber, AJ Lim got the better of Indonesia’s Anthony Susanto in a battle of Cup debutantes. The 17-year-old Filipino took the win 7-5, 6-3.

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