Khim Iglupas subdued a tough Japanese Shiori Ito, 6-4, 7-5, while Shaira Hope Rivera continued to dish out top form as they barged into the quarterfinal round of the Phinma-PSC International Juniors Tennis Championships Week 1 at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center on Thursday.
After a 6-0, 6-0 cruise over American Anniya Holloway in the first round, the top seeded Iglupas found the going tough against Ito, breaking the Japanese once in the first set then battling back from 3-4 down in the next to stay on course for her title-retention drive in the Grade 4 ITF 18-under category event sponsored by the Phinma Group of Companies and the Philippine Sports Commission.
“Her opponent is really good. I was told that Ito was champion in the WTA U-14. But good thing Kim knew what to do and leaned on her variety of shots,” said Jun Toledo, Iglupas coach in the Philippine Tennis Academy.
“I’ve faced a number of Japanese and they’re strong and tough, especially in the long game. So I went for drop shots, volleys and sliced shots. I forced her to go to the net,” said the Iligan City find Iglupas after completing her 72-minute victory and a spot in the Last 8 of the girls’ side.
The 17-year-old Rivera, on the other hand, came away with an impressive 6-1, 6-1 romp over Hong Kong qualifier Mia Wong to stay in the title hunt in the top-ranking tournament backed by Mariposa Foundation, Technifibre and Century Park Hotel which stakes 40 ITF (International Tennis Federation) ranking points to the winner and 30 to the runner-up.
Also a PTA mainstay, the Ozamis City native Rivera earlier shocked No. 7 Jordan Harris of the US, 7-5, 7-5.
But while Iglupas and Rivera advanced, the rest of the Filipino hopefuls in both sides fell by the wayside with wild card Amanda Zoleta losing to Canadian Sabrina Alano, 0-6, 2-6, and Monica Cruz dropping a 5-7, 0-6 setback to Taiwanese Lee Kuan Yi.
Fil-Italian Diego Dalisay also got the boot in the boys’ division, losing steam after a strong first set and bowing to Malaysian Christian Chin, 6-1, 5-7, 3-6; while Manuel Balce III succumbed to Japanese Seita Watanabe, 0-6, 0-6.
That leaves Michael Eala as the lone Filipino entry in the boys side after top seed Bryan Otico lost to Japanese Keisuke Saitoh, 4-6, 3-6, in the first round and Arthur Pantino bowed to Japanese Fumiya Yoshino, 3-6, 7-6(3).
Eala beat HK’s Kyle Tang, 6-2, 6-3, in Day 2 of the first of two-week tournament featuring the region’s leading and rising junior players. The PSC-Phinma IJTC Week 2 will be held Nov. 22-27 with the qualifying sign-in on Nov. 19 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the qualifying matches set Nov. 20-21.