Balanga, Rudas barge into semis

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Friday, March 14, 2014


TOP-SEEDED Edilyn Balanga and second-seeded Marinel Rudas leaned on their vast experience to win semi-finals berths after beating their respective opponents in the women singles competition of the 3rd National Men's and Women's Invitational Tennis Championships at the Woodridge Tennis Club Courts in Ma-a on Friday.

Balanga, born and raised in Spain, rolled past veteran Aileen Rogan, who hails from General Santos City, 6-2, 6-1.

Philippine Tennis Association (Philta) women's ranked No. 4 as of February 28, 2014.

Balanga set up a semi-finals collision against National University player Hannah Grace Espinosa of Cebu City who outclassed her best friend Sally Espinosa, 6-3, 6-1, in the quarter-finals.

This was the first time that Espinosa defeated Siso, as the latter had won all their meetings in recent years since their age-group years in Cebu.

"Nakaisa nako niya. Sige raman ko mapildi niya sa among mga dula sa una (I've beaten her at last. I lost all my games against her in the past," Espinosa said.

Siso, a Business in Administration major in marketing student at the University of San Carlos, laughed when asked about their game, saying, "Nakausa na sya nako (At least she won against me now)."

Espinosa, however, downplayed her chances against Balanga, a 2013 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games women's team silver medal performer in Myanmar, in the semis. Both players will be facing each other for the very first time.

"Tan-awon lang, basta dulaon lang nako sa tanang makaya nako (Let's see, I'll just play the best I can)," Espinosa said.

Balanga, for her part, was confident to make it through the finals.

"Lamang lang naman ako sa experience pero sa power at sa palo, paunahan lang naman iyan," she said.

Philta-ranked No. 8 Rudas, meanwhile, will test the mettle of fellow De La Salle University netter Rachelle De Guzman in the other semis encounter.

Rudas, 19, survived a second set scare to beat homegrown talent Jenni Celine Dizon, a 15-year-old graduating High School student at the Ateneo de Davao University, 6-2, 7-5.

Rudas, a runner-up in the 2012 edition of the invitational tournament, was up 2-0 but she succumbed to a series of crucial errors and double defaults for Dizon to snatch a 4-2 lead. Rudas then climbed back by scoring a point on her services and capitalizing on Dabawenya's miscues. Dizon, however, recovered to pace 5-3, only to collapse at the stretch with Rudas' masterful placing.

Rudas said, "She (Dizon) already has a game. She just needs more exposure. She will be stronger if she really makes it to a university in Manila since there are lots of tournaments there."

De Guzman also shared the limelight by escaping a 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 triumph over NU's Jzash Canja of Kidapawan City.

De Guzman on meeting Rudas for the third time, "Lamang po talaga sya sa experience pero paunahan nalang po ng palo."

Rudas had beaten the 17-year-old De Guzman twice before, first in an age group tournament then in the Makati Open.

In women's doubles, the tandem of Canja and Siso blasted Espinosa and Dizon, 6-3, 6-1, to play against the pair of Balanga-Rogan who whipped Rudas-De Guzman, 6-3, 6-3. Rudas-De Guzman, however, stayed alive by overcoming Espinosa-Dizon, 6-1, 6-4 in the loser's bracket.

In men's doubles, Mark Reyes and Ronard Joven upset Johnny Arcilla and Leander Lazaro, 1-6, 6-3, 10-5, to advance opposite Patrick John Tierro and Ralph Kevin Barte who turned back Elbert Anasta and Mark Anthony Alcoseba, 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (5-7), 10-5.

The P216-rich netfest, presented by Merco, Selecta and Flot Group, resumes today, March 15, with women's and men's singles semi-finals set in the morning and the women's and men's doubles losers' side and mixed doubles semis in the afternoon.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 15, 2014.

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