BUKIDNON'S John Bryan Otico was unseeded at the start of the tournament but he became the instant star after shocking defending champion and country's top-ranked player Patrick John Tierro, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, in their 35th PCA Open men's titular showdown held at the PCA Centre Court in Paco, Manila last Sunday, November 19.
"Masayang-masaya po ako, di nga rin ako makapaniwala!," beamed the 18-year-old Maramag native said in a phone interview with Sun.Star Monday.
He said, "Ako po nagdidikta sa first two sets pero medyo kinapos at napagod ako. Actually maganda na talaga laro nya since nagstart ang third set and fourth set, nagkaroon sya ng kumpyansa, kaya nakabawi sya at nag-tie kami."
In the deciding fifth set, however, La Salle Zobel player Otico said he conditioned himself to just give all the strength he could muster.
"Sabi ko sa sarili ko tutal matatalo nalang ako at wala namang mawawala sa akin eh di ibigay ko na ang lahat-lahat. Ginalaw-galaw ko lang ang bola at pinatakbo-takbo ko sya," Otico, who also competed in the Mayor James Gamao National Invitational Championship 2017 in Panabo City last month, said.
Otico and Tierro had met five times including the just-concluded PCA Open. The latter leads their personal record, 3-2.
Otico first defeated Tierro in a tournament in San Carlos City.
He dedicated his win to his family. His father is a butcher in Bukidnon while her mother is an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Thailand.
Otico is the eldest in the brood of three.
With barely one day rest, he is competing again in the ITF Phinma tournament that opened on Tuesday, November 21.