PANABO CITY, Davao del Norte - Heavy favorites Francis Casey Alcantara, Johnny Arcilla, Patrick John Tierro and Vicente Elberto Anasta drew first blood as the 2nd Mayor James Gamao Cup National Invitational Tennis Championship 2018 opened at the Panabo City twin courts here Wednesday, June 13.
Top seed Alcantara, 26, who hails from Cagayan de Oro City, breezed past Ronard Joven of Sultan Kudarat, 6-2, 6-2, to mark his Panabo debut on a high note. He missed action in the inaugural edition last year.
Alcantara, in an interview with Sun.Star Davao, said he was already familiar with Joven's game as they practice every day in Manila together.
He, however, downplayed his title chances in the tournament organized by the For the Love of Tennis (Flot) Group and co-presented by Merco and Selecta.
"Kahit ano...manalo, matalo. Whoever plays well, sleeps well kasi anybody's game talaga. Magagaling lahat. Nandito kami para mag-enjoy sa game," the Davis Cupper said.
(Whatever, win or lose. It’s anybody's game. Everyone is good. We are just here to enjoy the game.)
The weather was too hot, he continued, and that the court was too fast. "Mahirap maglaro kasi mabilis ang bola, mashorten ang rallies namin. Nakakatakot mag-slide baka matapilok kaya konting ingat lang talaga," Alcantara added.
At 38 years old, second seed Johnny Arcilla of Butuan City still lived up to his billing as he demolished 18-year-old Jan Godfrey Seno of Cebu City, 6-1, 6-2.
Arcilla said he capitalized on his experience as he put on pressure against Seno at the start to dominate and seal the match.
"We've been hitting partners in Cebu. He's young and there is still much ahead of him," he said of the Cebuano in the vernacular.
The veteran netter also said that even if country's No. 1 Jeson Patrombon withdrew from the meet, the title chase would still be an uphill battle with the presence of Alcantara, defending champion Tierro and Anasta.
Third seed Tierro also eliminated Gabriel Perez, 6-1, 6-1, while fourth seed Anasta survived past John Jeric Accon of Davao City, 6-4, 6-4.
In other matches, John Bryan Otico of Bukidnon outclassed John Mari Altiche, 6-2, 3-1 retire; Fritz Chris Verdad beat Philippine Tennis Academy mainstay Arthur Craig Pantino, 6-4, 6-4; Eric Olivarez, Jr. ousted Rolly John Saga, 6-3, 6-4; and Leander Lazaro booted out Dheo Talatayod, 6-1, 6-3.
Arcilla collides with Verdad while Alcantara clashes against Otico as singles competition resumes Thursday, June 14.
Doubles matches were ongoing as of Wednesday press time.