Johnny Arcilla clipped Noel Damian, 6-2, 6-4, to nail another men’s crown while Khim Iglupas rallied past Christine Patrimonio, 6-4, 7-6(6), to snare the women’s title in the first Albay National Open at the Lignon Hills Tennis Club in Bicol on Sunday.
Arcilla, 37, used his power and experience to overwhelm Damian, breaking his eighth-ranked rival right in the first game then in the seventh. Damian, 20, held his ground in the first six games of the second but yielded the marathon seventh game before the duo held serves the rest of the way.
Arcilla dropped just four games on his way to the finals, crushing Fritz Verdad, 6-0, 6-0, in the semis, while Damian upended No. 5 Eric Jed Olivarez, 6-1, 6-4, to earn a crack at the crown in the P250,000 event hosted by Gov. Al Francis Bichara through Lignon Hills Tennis Club president Nards Gonzales.
The win, which came on the heels of his 6-4, 6-4 victory over absentee PJ Tierro in the Brookside Open in Cainta last April, set the veteran Davis Cupper for another possible sweep of the Open titles staked in the Palawan Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Padala tennis calendar.
Next up is the Olivarez Open in August then the Pintaflores Open in San Carlos, Negros in November and the Dagitab Tennis Festival Open in Naga City, Cebu in December, according to PPS-PEPP sports program development director Bobby Mangunay.
But while Arcilla romped off with another easy win worth P30,000, Iglupas needed to fight back from 2-3 deficits before outlasting Patrimonio in a thrilling second-set duel and pocket the P20,000 purse.
Coming off a 1-0(ret.) win over Aileen Rogan in the semis, Iglupas yielded the first game but struck back from a 1-3 hole by holding serve in the fifth game and breaking the Brookside Open titlist in the next to draw level. After both traded breaks, the Cagayan de Oro ace held serve in the ninth then broke Patrimonio again in the next to steal the set.
Patrimonio, who eased out Frances Santiago, 6-3, 6-2, in the Final Four, started strong again in the second set, breaking Iglupas twice to seize a 4-1 lead. But the latter broke back in the sixth and eighth while holding serve twice to wrest a 5-4 lead. Patrimonio tied the set by holding serve in the 10th but after both held serves, Iglupas proved steadier in the tiebreak to clinch the set and the match in 99 minutes.
Arcilla and Iglupas later teamed up to subdue Leander Lazaro and Patrimonio, 6-4, 6-4, to bag the mixed doubles crown in the event backed by local sponsor Davies Paints and held as part of the province’s Magayon Festival celebrations.