Southeast Asian Games lawn tennis doubles gold medalist Nino Alcantara marked his return to the international pro circuit in a big way. He made the doubles finals of the 2022 M15 Sharm ElSheikh Tournament in Egypt.
However, Alcantara and partner Kelsey Stevenson of Canada had to settle for runner-up honors. They dropped a pulsating three-setter to the top-seeded Italian pair of Francesco Villardo and Samuel Vincent Ruggeri in the championship match, 6-2, 5-7, 3-10., Sunday at the hardcourt of the Soho Square in Sharm ElSheikh.
Seeded second in the $15,000 International Tennis Federation (ITF) event, Alcantara and Stevenson were in sharp form all tournament long. They did not drop a set on their way to the finals.
The Filipino and Canadian tandem made short work of their opening round opponents, Marco and Roberto Miceli of Italy, 6-2, 6-1. In the quarterfinals, Alcantara and Stevenson defeated Cesar Bourgois of France and Loic Cloes of Belarus, 6-4, 6-4.
The second seeds then dispatched the Chinese Taipei duo of Wei-De Lin and Bang Shuo Yin in the semifinals, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
Alcantara and Stevenson finally met their match in the finals, though. They faced the number one seeds, who also had not dropped a set en route to the championship round.
A strong opening set saw Alcantara and Stevenson break serve twice for a relatively easy win to draw first blood. Then the 32-year-old veteran Villardo and 19-year-old Ruggeri bounced back strong to bag the next two sets and the title.
This was Alcantara’s first foray in the international tour this year. The Philippine national team mainstay sees action anew this week in another ITF M15 event in Egypt.