Johnny Arcilla expects a tough outing in pursuit of another crown while Khim Iglupas seeks to dominate the women’s singles side of the PPS-PEPP Dagitab Tennis Festival Open, which got under way on Saturday at the City of Naga tennis courts in Naga City, Cebu.
The veteran Arcilla ruled the men’s singles the last two years but faces a talent-laden cast of seasoned and rising players this week, including recent PCA Open champion Bryan Otico, who upended Davis Cupper PJ Tierro in five to emerge the sport’s newest star.
Although Otico, the 18-year-old Philippine Tennis Academy mainstay, landed in the lower half of the 32-player draw, Arcilla still has a tough block to hurdle to gain another crack at the crown in the season-ending Open tournament sponsored by Palawan Pawnshop and the LGUs of Naga City led by Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong.
They include No. 3 Tierro, seventh ranked Vicente Anasta, No. 8 Noel Damian along with Eric Jed Olivarez, Kim Saraza, John Mari Altiche, Dheo Talatayod and recent Phinma ITF Junior winner Arthur Pantino.
Aside from the unranked Otico, second seed Jeson Patrombon, meanwhile, also has a slew of talented rivals to face, including No. 4 Leander Lazaro, fifth ranked Fritz Verdad, sixth seed Ronad Joven along with Marcen Gonzales, Mark Alcoseba, Roel Capangpangan, and Jan Godfrey Seno.
Also on tap in the week-long tournament backed by Asia Traders Corp. and official ball Slazenger is the mixed doubles which offers P48,000 in total prizes. The men’s singles winner will pocket P30,000 while the women’s singles champion will take home P20,000.
Meanwhile, the season-ending tournament of the country’s longest and biggest talent-search with over 50 events will be held Dec. 26-30 for the PPS-PEPP Angeles, Pampanga leg at the Angeles City Tennis Club in Villa Gloria Subd.,according to PPS-PEPP Sports Program Development director and organizer Bobby Mangunay. For details, call 0915-4046464.
While the men’s singles title fight looms to be wide-open, multi-titled Iglupas is tipped to stamp her class in her side of the event in the absence of last year’s tormentor and winner Clarice Patrimonio.
Still, No. 2 Shaira Rivera, third seed Aileen Rogan, No. 4 Patricia Velez and a slew of other junior players are raring and ready to prove their worth, including Tracy Llamas, Erika Manduriao, Bliss Bayking, Melanie Dizon and Elizabeth Abarquez.