Make yourself available starting 3 P.M. today. It’s the quarterfinal round of the Cebuana Lhuillier Men’s Tennis Open. Happening only once every 12 months, this is a rare treat for Cebuanos—right at the heart of the city, at Baseline.
Eight players remain and, thus far, there are no upsets. This is surprising. Usually, one or two “seeded” (meaning: ranked) players are “upset” by lower-ranked journeymen. Not this April.
Who remain? Of course, the ones first-named Johnny and PJ and Onyok and Rolando. If you follow Philippine tennis, these guys are familiar names… Arcilla, Tierro, Anasta and Ruel.
The match to watch today? It starts at 4 P.M. It’s the No.1 seed and long-time top-ranked Pinoy netter, Johnny Arcilla, versus the youngest rising star of our archipelago: Jurence Mendoza.
J vs. J. That’s Johnny The Experienced against Jurence The Future. Johnny, of course, we know as super. He’s the defending champ. He was in Lapu-Lapu City when we played the Davis Cup twice in 2011. Jurence? Only 16 years young, he reached the finals last year of the grandest tournament in this nation: the Phil. Columbian Association (PCA) Open. En route, he defeated the former No.1 PJ Tierro.
How good is Jurence? In the first round two days ago, he played our local favorite Roy Tabotabo. The score was 6-0 in the first set. As narrated to me by Atty. Frank Malilong when we met yesterday afternoon: In the second set, had not a friend of Roy’s jokingly shouted to Jurence to give our man a chance, he’d probably have done the same love-set. Final score: 6-0, 6-1. Against Roy Tabotabo. Yesterday, against Antonio Sagansay, he demolished him the same: 6-1, 6-2. J & J: watch it this afternoon in Baseline.
DOUBLES. All singles matches begin at 3 P.M. Right after the quarterfinal games, the men’s doubles follow. These will be played at night. Why this late schedule? To accommodate us—the crowd—and our busy, working-day schedules. This 3 to 8 P.M. time slot is perfect.
PRO-AM. Beginning tomorrow, there’s a side event where a Pro is paired with an Amateur. I’m joining. My partner? Juvan Divinagracia. No, we haven’t met yet but we’ll be together with seven other pairs in this interesting category. Last year’s champions? Jun Toledo and Jean Henri Lhuillier. Others who are joining this year include Fabby Borromeo, Johnny Bohol, Dodo Laza, Mikel Ugarte, Jaime Quiñones…