Philippine tennis is uniting for the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Hit by leadership squabbles, the sport will be trying to bury the memory of a gold-less campaign in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, where Thailand swept the five gold medals at stake.
“Seeing Treat (Huey) and Ruben (Gonzales) playing for the Philippines is a very good sign. And hopefully, the Filipino tennis community will really try to support the team this coming SEA Games,” said national team coach Chris Cuarto.
Fil-Ams Huey and Gonzales will be leading the charge for the Philippines, together with Casey Alcantara, Jeson Patrombon, AJ Lim, Marian Capadocia, Khim Iglupas, Denise Dy and Shaira Rivera and Clarice Patrimonio.
“The training is still on-going. Most of the players now are trying to get some time off kasi katatapos lang PCA Open. Most of our local players and ‘yung mga players natin abroad still on-going ‘yung mga tournaments nila. Si Treat and Ruben are in the US, while Alcantara just came back from Qatar and he’s leaving again for Kuwait this coming week for the Challenger 25 Thousands,” said Cuarto.
“They’re still joining more tournaments and depending on their results, siguro the latest (they’ll be back) is third week. So everyone will be converging here in Manila for the SEA Games,” he added.
“The PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) has long been wishing for peaceful solutions to NSA squabbles, although as a government agency, it does not have a say on these situations,” PSC Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez said.
“But we are happy with this recent development, especially with the SEA Games just around the corner,” Ramirez added.
The tennis competitions are slated Dec. 1 to 7 at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, with Thailand trying to duplicate its total domination of the sport two years ago, with a powerhouse cast composed of Tamarine Tanasugarn, Luksika Kumkhum, Peangtarn Plipuech and twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana and Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul.
“The countries vying for the SEA Games are quite tough in tennis and alam naman natin for the past years, medyo malakas talaga ang Thailand and Indonesia. And there’s also Vietnam. I heard that Laos and Cambodia will be having tennis players from Europe, [particularly] from France. So, it will be a tough field for the Philippines,” said Cuarto, who is hoping to crack the mighty Thai dominance in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles.
“Mabigat, but as I have said before, we’re really vying for good results in doubles especially if we have Treat, Ruben, and Niño for doubles and for mixed. Kasi Denis Dy also is flying out from the US to join the team. ‘Yung dalawang event na ‘yun hopefully we do good,” said Cuarto.
‘Yung sa singles naman, free for all ‘yan. We heven’t decided yet kung sino magiging partner ng mga players kasi that can be decided up until the captain’s meeting (Nov. 30). We don’t want to pre-empt anything yet, but we still have to talk to the players as well,” said Cuarto.
The last time the Philippines hosted the games, we won three gold medals, courtesy of Cecile Mamiit (singles, doubles and mixed).
“Malaking factor ang hometown crowd. Hopefully, the Filipino tennis community will really try to support the team this coming SEA Games,” Cuarto said.