Battle Royale

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Saturday, March 15, 2014


SAVE the best for last. Only the best and the finest netters are seeing action as the final day of the 3rd National Men's and Women's Invitational Tennis Championships unwraps at Woodridge Tennis Club Courts in Ma-a, starting 8 a.m. today.

They are the survivors of the three-day quarter-final and semi-final rounds of the P216,000-rich tournament presented by Merco, Selecta and Flot Group.

Secon-seeded pair Ralph Kevin Barte of Davao City and Patrick John Tierro, born in South Carolina, USA, climbed their way to a finals berth in men's doubles after beating third-seeded Vicente Elberto Anasta of Negros Occidental and Mark Anthony Alcoseba of Davao City, 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 in the losers' side yesterday afternoon.

Barte, a University of Sto. Tomas varsity scholar, is the only Dabawenyo who made it into the finals since former Brokenshire College standout Alcoseba and Ateneo de Davao Univeristy's Jenni Celine Dizon lost all their singles and doubles matches.

Barte and Tierro will play against fourth-seeded Fil-Italian Marc Reyes and Sultan Kudarat pride Ronard Joven who will be twice-to-beat in the finals. Reyes and Joven spanked Barte-Tierro in their first meeting, thus, the the latter will try to avenge their loss in the titular encounter. It can be recalled that Barte won the men's doubles crown in 2012 with then partner Anasta.

"Twice-to-beat ang kalaban namin. Sana manalo kami bukas," Barte told Sun.Star Davao.

In women's doubles, fourth-seeded duo of Jzah Canja of Kidapawan City and Sally Mae Siso of Cebu City will also have a twice-to-beat advantage against top-seeded Manila-based players Edilyn Balanga of Spain and Aileen Rogan of General Santos City when they meet anew in the championship. National University's Canja and University of San Carlos' Siso, bested Balanga-Rogan, 6-4, 4-6, 10-8 in their first collision.

Balanga and Rogan got their acts together from a first set setback to overcome De La Salle University bets Marinel Rudas and Rachelle De Guzman, 2-6, 6-2, 10-4 in a losers' game yesterday.

Rogan said, "We'll give our best in the finals. Wala nang laro-laro. Seryosong labanan na bukas (smiles)."

Siso, for her part, admitted Balanga and Rogan still have the edge over them, saying: "Mas beterano man sila pareho, kusog kaayo sila. Dunay power ilang mga palo, naglisod mi atong nagdula mi maski ila services kusog sab. Dili lang mi magkumpyansa maski napildi na namo sila kausa. Maningkamot ra mi ni Jzash (They're both seasoned players, very strong. Both are powerful hitters. We really had a difficult time playing against them the first time. We can' be complacent even if we have already defeated them once)."

NU netters Leander Lazaro and Hannah Grace Espinosa, meanwhile, ousted No. 1 pair Johnny Arcilla and De Guzman, 7-5, 6-2, to battle Joven and Rudas, who hacked out a 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 10-6 over Reyes and Rogan, for the mixed doubles title.

Espinosa said, "We're just enjoying our partnership. I think we are all equal in the finals, no one has the advantage over the other." But she hoped they will win the finals even if Joven and Rudas are more experienced than her and Lazaro.

Davis Cupper Arcilla, Philippine Tennis Association (Philta) men's ranked No. 2, just shrugged off his back-to-back defeats in men's and mixed doubles, adding, "Kailangan ko na talagang manalo sa singles." The PCA three-time champion from Butuan City is defending champion in men's singles.

The singles semis matches in both men's and women's were still being played as of presstime.

Catch the last day of action of the netfest today, pitting the country's top players.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 16, 2014.

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