Arthur Craig Pantino. Cebu Daily News (file photo)
By: Kristoffer Ed Bellen
MANILA--Arthur Craig Pantino opened his 2018 campaign with a statement as he claimed his first ever international doubles title for this year after a perfect run with Southeast Asian compatriot Kasidit Samrej of Thailand at the Hong Kong ITF Juniors Tournament (Grade 4), at the Victoria Park Tennis Court on Saturday.
The top-seeded pair of Pantino and Samrej went on a mission as they did not lost a single set heading into their maiden trophy as a tandem in the five-day affair sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation to set an avenue for junior tennis players around the world in preparation for their stint at the Pro Circuit.
Pantino and Samrej completed their outright domination with a 6-2, 6-4 routing on fourth seeds Darrshan Suresh of Malaysia and Chien Cheng Yu of Chinese Taipei at the championship match after also tallying three separate two-setter victories since the first round of the main draw of the event which ran through Jan. 15-20 as part of the 43 Juniors tournaments by the ITF this month.
Moreover, the 16-year-old Pantino also made a giant stride in the boys’ singles event after making it to the final four while entering the draw as the top seed, only to succumb a 2-6, 2-6 upset against third seeded Chang Lin Tsai of Chinese Taipei in an intense semifinal showdown.
Pantino currently has an impressive career record in the ITF Juniors with a 52-33 win-loss card at the singles event highlighted by his initial 3-1 campaign for this year while also remaining in a winning note at the doubles with a 40-30 record overall including that 4-0 start in Hong Kong.
With his notable start this year, the Cebuano native notched a spot in the Top 200 ahead of the Junior Masters road to Chengdu as he currently sits as the world’s No. 194 as of Jan. 15 after finishing as ranked 267 in the year-end rankings last year.
Other Philippines’ junior tennis players who were also seen in action in the event were Michael Francis Eala, who managed to enter the second round before bowing down against Qian Sun of China, 4-6, 1-6, and doubles partner Matthew Garcia.
Eala and Garcia failed to push through the second round after being eliminated by Hong Kong's own pair in Tim Thomas Gauntlett and Sheung Yin Stephen Wong, 1-6, 2-6.
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