• Iglupas rips Ito, moves into Phinma quarters

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    Top seed Khim Iglupas warded off Japanese Shiori Ito and hacked out a 6-4, 6-3 victory then watched the rest of the Filipino bets bow one after the other in singles play in the Phinma-PSC International Juniors Tennis Championships Week 2 at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center on Thursday.

    Out to atone for her semifinal exit in Week 1, the 18-year-old Iglupas needed to toughen up against the game Ito in the opening frame then imposed her will in the next to clinch the win and lead the quarterfinalists in the Grade 4 ITF 18-under category event sponsored by the Phinma Group of Companies and the Philippine Sports Commission.

    “I had a tougher time beating her this time,” said Iglupas of Ito, whom she also disposed of in straight sets last week. “She’s strong in the long game and she’s able to recover my drop and spin shots.”

    The Iligan City native, who beat Aussie Ivana Popovic, 6-3, 6-2, in the first round, will next face unseeded Ange Oby Kajuru, also of Japan, who overpowered Indonesian Shevita Aulana, 6-4, 6-1, even as second seed Rika Tanaka of Japan whipped Putri Sanjungan, also of Indonesia, 6-0, 6-4, in the lower half of the 32-player draw of the final week of the two-stage top ranking event backed by Mariposa Foundation, Technifibre and Century Park Hotel.

    Tanaka will next take on Chinese Jing Jing Yang, who upset No. 7 Oleksandra Kalachova of New Zealand, 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.

    Iglupas, with Lee Kuan Yi as partner, also advanced to the semis in the doubles with a walkover win over Aulana and Sabrina Ristawan, while last week’s boys’ doubles champion Bryan Otico and Seita Watanabe of Japan thwarted Ryoma Matsushita and Fumiya Yoshino, 6-2, 7-5, to likewise gain a Final Four berth.

    But while Iglupas stayed in the title hunt, compatriots and fellow Philippine Tennis Academy mainstay Shaira Rivera and Frances Santiago fell by the wayside and Arthur Pantino dropped a sorry setback to Japanese qualifier Keisuke Saitoh in the boys’ side.

    The third ranked Pantino, impressive with his 6-4, 6-2 romp over Japanese Taiyo Yamanaka in the first round, lost steam in the third set against Saitoh and absorbed a 2-6, 6-3, 4-6 loss in their duel for a quarters seat.

    Fil-Spaniard Diego Dalisay also bowed out via default to No. 5 Kazuki Shimizu Wednesday.

    Rivera failed to get back at last week’s tormentor and Week 1 champion Lee Kuan Yi of Taiwan, 2-6, 2-6, while Santiago succumbed to Chinese Xuanjin Li, 1-6, 1-6.

    Also making it to the quarters were American Jordan Harris, who eased out No. 5 Risa Fukutoku of Japan, 6-2, 6-3; and No. 4 Shiho Tsukuda, who held off Taiwanese Chao-Yi Wang, 7-5, 6-2.

    A new champion, meanwhile, will emerge in the boys’ side after last week’s winner and fourth seed Ryuki Matsuda took an early exit after bowing to Thai Natthasith Kunsuwan, 5-7, 3-6, in the first round. Kunsuwan sustained his form and ousted Indonesian Giorgio Soemarno, 6-3, 6-1, to barge into the quarters.

    Iglupas, with Lee Kuan Yi as partner, also advanced to the semis in the doubles with a walkover win over Aulana and Sabrina Ristawan, while last week’s boys’ doubles champion Bryan Otico and Seita Watanabe of Japan thwarted Ryoma Matsushita and Fumiya Yoshino, 6-2, 7-5, to likewise gain a Final Four berth.

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