Francis Casey Alcantara teamed up with Treat Huey against Indonesia at the doubles event of the Asia Oceania Zone Group II last Feb. 5, 2017. Photo courtesy of Philippine Davis Cup Team Facebook page.
By Kristoffer Ed Bellen
MANILA--The Philippine national tennis team will see its first international competition for this year on familiar grounds as they are set to visit Southeast Asian rivals Indonesia in the opening round of the Asia-Oceania Zone Group II of the Davis Cup at the Gelora Bung Karo Tennis Stadium Complex in Jakarta, Indonesia on Feb. 3-4.
Later this month, Philippine Tennis Association’s (PHILTA) committee, led by long-time Philippine Davis Cup team manager Jean Henri Lhuillier, are reported to announce this year’s lineup with a mixture of veteran and up and coming tennis players making it to the list of candidates which includes teenage tennis hotshot AJ Lim, PJ Tierro, and Jeson Patrombon, while the odds of Treat Huey, Ruben Gonzales, and Francis Casey Alcantara to return and lead the team are still uncertain.
It is the second consecutive year that the Philippines and Indonesia will battle in the first round as the two teams squared off last year at the Philippine Columbian Association indoor courts where the former defeated the visitors in a dominant fashion, 4-1, highlighted by Gonzales’ three-set victory over David Agung Susanto.
The Philippines are aiming to get back on track with the bigger stage after losing its Group I status when they fell short against Chinese-Taipei in a relegation playoff match in 2011, 2-3.
Since then, the Philippines witnessed two straight trips at the Asia-Oceania Zone Group II final in 2012 and 2013 against Indonesia and New Zealand, respectively, before being limited at the semifinals for the past four years.
The Philippines succumb a disappointing 0-5 loss against Thailand in last year’s second round after missing the services of Huey, Gonzales, and Alcantara that ended its campaign to regain its position in Group I.
Shall the Philippines win, they will set up a second-round date against the winners of the other tie between Thailand and Sri Lanka on April 7-8 while the final round which will determine who will be promoted to Group I in 2019 will take action on Sept. 15-16.
The Indonesians currently have a one-match head-to-head advantage against the Filipinos in 11 overall tie meetings, 6-5, while the world’s No. 51 Philippines aims to even the record at the first ever edition of the two-day affair after it was usually slated for three days before.
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