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Streaky Alcantara to surpass career-high ranking, caps off Thailand stint with third straight title

Francis Casey Alcantara (right) poses with Sonchat Ratiwana (left) after winning the ITF Thailand F6 Futures at Hua Hin, Thailand.
By Kristoffer Ed Bellen

MANILA—In-form Francis Casey Alcantara closed out the best three weeks of his juvenile career, thus far, after clinching his third straight title at the ITF Thailand F6 Futures at The True Arena, in Hua Hin, Thailand, Friday.

World number 338 Alcantara, who is expected to surpass his career-high ATP doubles ranking of world number 330 next week, teamed up with Southeast Asian rival and Thai doubles legend Sonchat Ratiwana in his third straight week in Hua Hin to claim his third consecutive title and 11th overall in the ITF Pro Circuit.

The top-seeded duo of Alcantara and Ratiwana weathered their gutsy second set performance after almost being bageled by India's Karunuday Singh and New Zealand's Ajeet Rai as they came up more aggressive in the tiebreaker third set en route to a 6-1, 1-6, 10-6 victory.

Alcantara and Ratiwana, who are heavily-favored to win this tournament, outscored Singh and Rai after firing a total of 54 winners compared to the latter's 44, while also converting three of their seven total break points in their 57-minute championship match.

"I am really happy and thankful for all my partners this last three weeks," Alcantara said in an exclusive online interview with Dugout Philippines.

"I am healthier and I hope to keep this going for the next four or five weeks until my offseason," he added.

Alcantara is enjoying what could have been his best season by far after already amassing five titles in this year alone, despite sustaining minor injuries midway through 2018.

Alcantara returned to the hard courts after a forgettable Asian Games campaign, capturing two of his three titles in as many weeks off two different partners after winning the ITF Thailand F4 and F5 Futures with Singh and Japanese Shintaro Imai, respectively

Prior to the Asian Games, Alcantara is ranked somewhere beyond the Top 350, but his three straight championships in Thailand saw him in the position of cracking the Top 300 sooner than later, should he play well in his next tournaments before training in the United States alongside Philippine Davis Cup teammate and former world number 18 Treat Huey in the offseason.

"[I am now] more confident, of course, but I have to keep on working hard kasi malayo pa yan sa goal ko which is Top 100," he said.

The 2009 junior Australian Open boys doubles champion, furthermore, noted that he had a good time playing for the first time with Ratiwana this past week, and even jokingly remarked on finally winning after losing to him multiple times in the Davis Cup and SEA Games.

"It's fun. I got to learn a lot from him on and off the court which is really good for my young career," Alcantara said.

The 26-year-old hotshot will be back in the country to rest for this week before playing two weeks each in Vietnam and Bangkok, respectively.

Follow him on Twitter: @KristoffBellen