Fourth seed Ronard Joven and No. 7 John Altiche came away with a pair of straight-set victories to nail the first two berths in the quarterfinals of the men’s singles of the Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala Tuna Festival Open Tennis Championship at the Gen. Santos City Tennis Club in Gen. Santos City on Wednesday.
Joven routed Wilfred Bentillo, 6-2, 6-0, in the first round then trounced Michael Mesa next, 6-2, 6-2, to advance to the quarters in the upper half of the 32-player draw in the week-long tournament sponsored by the country’s leading pawnshop, remittance and claim center Palawan Pawnshop and presented by Slazenger.
Altiche also posted a 6-2, 6-0 romp over Bruce Hurtado then survived a first-set scare against Athan Arejola to fashion out a 7-5, 6-1 triumph. He will next face the winner between second seed Patrick John Tierro and Roel Capampangan being played at presstime.
Tierro is eyeing a third straight win after sweeping the two PCA Open events the last two weeks although he expects a tougher challenge this time with a slew of aces raring to foil his bid, including top seed and defending champion Johnny Arcilla, whom he swept at PCA Open.
Arcilla, who dominated the three major Open tournaments on the PPS-PEPP calendar last year, including the Dagitab Festival Open and the Pintaflores Festival Open, was slugging it out with Bong Bagonon at presstime.
Others vying for Last 8 berths in the event, backed by Asiatraders Corp., exclusively distributor of Slazenger, the official ball, are third ranked Fritz Verdad, No. 5 Leander Lazaro, sixth seed Deo Talatayod and No. 8 Bryan Otico.
Meanwhile, Clarice Patrimonio and Khim Iglupas stayed on collision course as they breezed through the quarters of the ladies singles with ease with the former shutting out Ma. Angelica Novis, 6-0, 6-0, and the latter scoring a walkover win over Kimberly Keethler.
Third seed Hannah Espinosa routed Winona Cabardo, to seal a clash with Kathleney Arandia, who won via default over Akiko De Guzman; No. 4 Frances Santiago held off Danna Abad, 7-5, 6-3; Patricia Velez repulsed Patricia Paez, 6-1, 7-6(4); and Shary delos Santos downed Rachelle de Guzman, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.
Meanwhile, the Tuna Festival is the first of three major Open tournaments on the PPS-PEPP calendar, the two others being the Pintaflores Festival Open on Oct. 31-Nov. 6 and the Dagitab Festival Open on December 18 to 22.