DEFENDING champion Patrick John Tierro is returning to retain his title but will have to face a stiffer competition as the 2nd Mayor James Gamao Cup National Invitational Tennis Championship 2018 gets underway on June 13 to 16 in Panabo City.
Davis Cup veteran Tiero was not included in the partial list of participating players that was released but organizers recently bared that he is coming after all for another shot at the men's singles title.
Tierro, ranked fourth in the country, admitted, "Of course mas mahirap now", when asked about his chances of defending his crown.
"Not just because nandyan si (Jeson) Patrombon but lahat ng top players kasali. And everyone is prepared kasi galing sa tournament lahat ng kasali dyan," Tierro added.
Patrombon, who is current men's No. 1 player in the Philippines as of April 30 in the Unified Tennis Philippines ranking, is competing for the first time in the tournament presented by Merco and Selecta.
Merco president Anton Ferrazzini, for his part, said: "Grabe ang lakas ng mga players ngayon, star-studded ang tournament."
He was pertaining to country's No. 2 player Francis Casey Alcantara, No. 3 Johnny Arcilla, No. 5 Vicente Elberto Anasta, No. 7 John Bryan Otico, No. 8 Eric Olivarez, Jr., No. 9 Fritz Chris Verdad, No. 11 Leander Lazaro, No. 13 Dheo Talatayod, No. 15 Arthur Craig Pantino and No. 17 Ronard Joven who are also competing along with John Mari Altiche, Kim Ivor Saraza, John Jeric Accion, Rolly John Saga and Jan Godfrey Seno.
Players will arrive on June 12 and a welcome dinner for them will be hosted by Engr. Litoy and Grace Mercado at their residence.
A total cash prize of P150,000 will be at stake in the netfest
sponsored by Engr. Glenn Olandria, Erja Agri. International Inc., Stronghold Insurance, Swiss Deli (Markus Kehl and Romano Venuti), Mamma Marias (Paul Abao), Anflocor (Anflo Management and Investment Corp.), Rocky’s Barbershop (Timtom Gempesaw), L.A. Arizola Construction and Supply (Dodong Arizola), Cortess Printing (Jun Ramirez), Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles, Dr. Mike Demetria, L.V. Ledesma Construction, Inc. (Ludwig Ledesma), Petfirst Veterinary Clinic (Dr. Joana Ferrazzini-Mercader), Generose Tecson, Asiatraders (Christopher Tan), Dunlop Balls and Engr. Litoy and Grace Mercado.