Philippine Tennis got another shot in the arm when the country hosted the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Challenger Tour last month.
“Hosting the ATP Challenger was an opportunity that was too good to pass so I did everything possible to make it happen,” said Philippine Tennis Association Chairman Jean Henri Lhuillier.
“It’s definitely a big boost to Philippine tennis as it provided our players the opportunity to pit their skills against world-class players and see where they stand against the world’s best,” Lhuillier added.
Filipino Francis Casey Alcantara and Indonesian Christopher Rungkat finished second in the men’s doubles of the ATP Challenger Tour after they lost to Johan Brunstrom of Sweden and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark in the finals.
“Alcantara’s finals run in the doubles shows that our players have what it takes to become world-beaters if given the right opportunities,” said Lhuillier.
Filipino ATP wildcard contenders reigning Philippine Columbian Association Open champion Alberto Lim Jr., former Australian Open juniors singles quarterfinalist Jeson Patrombon, and Davis Cup veteran Filipino-American Ruben Gonzales faltered in their respective first-round matches in singles.
“[We want them to] move back to Asia-Oceania Group 1 of the Davis Cup where I strongly believe we belong,” said Lhuillier who happens to be the team manager of the Philippine Davis Cup Team.
The Philippines is currently in Group II of Davis Cup Asia-Oceania.
They will face Kuwait in the first round of the tie on March 4 to 6 at the Valle Verde Country Club in Pasig City.
To popularize the sport, Lhuillier aims to improve the skills and rankings of Filipino netters.
“Continue improving the skills and rankings of our players as well as popularizing the sport among Filipinos and that’s the reason why I have been actively supporting big international tennis events such as IPTL thru Philippine Mavericks which I co-owned and managed, the recent ATP Challenger and International Tennis Federation Men’s Futures which I and my company Cebuana Lhuillier supported,” he stressed.
He wants to see Gonzales, Alcantara, Treat Huey, and Katharina Lehnert in international competitions and improve their rankings.
Lhuillier also underscored the need for a steady grassroots development program through the staging of age-group tournaments in different parts of the country.
“More than a sports avenue, Cebuana Lhuillier Age Group tennis also advocates the total human formation of young tennis players by helping them reach their tennis career dreams, be it to go professional or use it as a platform for University schooling. We aim to hone these talents to not just be champions in sports but also be champions in real life,” Lhuiller referring to his company’s Cebuana Lhuillier age group tilt.
JEAN RUSSEL V. DAVID