Otico, Pantino storm into Phinma semis


Top seed Bryan Otico moved two wins from adding the Phinma-PSC Juniors Tennis Championship to his growing list of victories as he toppled Indonesian Odeda Arazza, 6-4, 6-1, yesterday to advance to the Final Four at the Manila Polo Club in Forbes Park on Friday.

Barely holding off the game Arazza in the opening frame, the 18-year-old Otico settled down and imposed his will and strength in the second, yielding just one game to complete his third straight-set romp in Week 2 of the annual Group 4 ITF (International Tennis Federation) 18-and-under event sponsored by the Philippine Investment Management Consultants (Phinma) and Technifiber.

The Philippine Tennis Academy standout, however, will have his hands full against No. 4 Taiyo Yamanaka, who also kept his run with a 6-2, 6-2 demolition of compatriot Kei Manaka in the upper half of the 32-player draw in the event sanctioned by the Philippine Tennis Association (Philta).

Third seed Arthur Pantino, meanwhile, survived Japanese Ryota Ishii, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3, to get another crack at Shunsuke Mitsui, who stayed on track for a sweep of the two ITF Phinma titles with a 6-0, 6-3 romp over local bet Michael Eala.

Mitsui swept Pantino to claim Week I title which Otico skipped to compete in the PCA Open where he upended veteran PJ Tierro to rule the country’s premier tournament.

But while Otico sustained his form, Shaira Rivera’s surge in the girls’ side ended in a 3-6, 1-6 setback to Week I champion Nicole Hammond of the US.

Aussie Lisa Mays ousted last week’s runner-up Elizabeth Stevens, also of the US, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, to seal a Final Four duel with second seed Punnin Kovapitukted of Thailand, who held off Japanese Yuna Ohashi, 7-6(5), 6-2 in the other quarterfinal match.

Hammond will tangle with Japanese Saki Oyama, who downed Chinese Li Jingyi, 7-5, 6-1.

Otico and Pantino were also vying for a spot in the doubles finals against Japan’s Ishii and Mitsui at presstime.


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