Abad, Velez stay on Olivarez Open collision course

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Davaoeñas Danna Abad and Patricia Velez fashioned out straight-set victories over their respective rivals to roll into the semifinal round of the girls’ premier class in the PPS-PEPP Olivarez Open regional age group 2017 at the Olivarez Sports Center in Sucat, Parañaque on Monday.

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But while the top seeded Abad dominated Francesca Cruz, 6-1, 6-1, the No. 5 Velez needed to toughen up to upend No. 2 Ma. Aubrey Calma, 6-4, 6-3, and reach the Final Four of the 18-and-under division of the Group I tournament sponsored by the Olivarez family as part of its long-time commitment to help in the country’s talent-search.

But Abad will have her hands full against No. 4 Nicole Bautista, who defeated Denise Bernardo, 6-1, 7-5, while Velez will face Bea Acena, who trounced Bliss Bayking, 6-0, 6-4, in the event serving as a prelude to the Open which features the country’s leading players and rising stars.

Meanwhile, 156 players slug it out for eight berths in the main draw of the Olivarez Open in the two-day qualifier starting today (Tuesday).

Top seed Johnny Arcilla and No. 2 PJ Tierro lead the battle for the top P50,000 purse staked in the 64-player men’s Open, while Clarice Patrimonio and Khim Iglupas are the top two seeds in the women’s side offering a top prize of P25,000 in the week-long event backed by PPS-PEPP, Stronghold Insurance, Milestone Guarantee Assurance Corp. and Sterling Insurance Company.

Gabriel Tiamson, on the other hand, stunned top seed Klyde Lagarde, 6-0, 6-0, to advance to the semis against Lordrenz Pacheco, who repelled Ramon Bentillo, 2-6, 6-3, 10-5; while No. 2 Vince Tugade romped past Athan Arejola, 6-1, 6-1, for a semis clash with Jeremiah Macias III, 6-1, 6-2, in the boys’ 18-U side of the event backed by Palawan Pawnshop and presented by Slazenger.

Other semifinalists were Marcus Del Rosario, Laurenz Quitara, Lagarde and Tugade (16-U); John David Velez, Jay Balaoing, Sal Andre Lago and Exequiel Jacutan (14-U); Marc Jarata, Reyman Saldivar Jr. and Lago (12-U); and Tenielle Madis, Alexi Jarata, Connor Cuizon and Samuel Salazar (10-unisex).

Madis actually took the first finals slot in the girls’ 12-U with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Jiana Hernandez while the other matches in various girls’ divisions were still being played at presstime.

The top three placers in all age-group categories will gain ranking points for a chance to compete abroad and free training under the program of the Unified Tennis Group, composed of Cebuana Lhuillier, PPS-PEPP, Wilson, Toby’s, BMeg, Citigreen, Babolat, Tru-Flez and all regional allies from Regions 1-18. For details, call 09154046464.

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