Chang Ting Pei pulled through in a thrilling held-break battle in the opening set then broke Khim Iglupas twice in the second to complete a shock 7-6(3), 6-3 triumph and advance to the Phinma-PSC International Juniors Tennis Championships Week 1 Finals at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center on Saturday.
The Taiwanese came out of a tough opening frame escape in fierce form, breaking the defending Filipina champion in the fifth and seventh games of the second. Though Iglupas broke back in the eighth via shutout, Chang returned the compliment in the next game, racking up four straight points to clinch the set, the match and a berth in the finals of the Grade 4 ITF 18-under category events sponsored by the Phinma Group of Companies and the Philippine Sports Commission.
That also ended the Philippine Tennis Academy mainstay’s two-year reign in the first of two top ranking events backed by Mariposa Foundation, Technifibre and Century Park Hotel.
Lee Kuan Yi made it an all-Taiwanese final as she toppled Chinese Li Xuan Jin, 6-4, 6-2.
The Japanese, meanwhile, assured of another boys’ title for the third straight year as second seed Seita Watanabe held off unranked compatriot Tomoya Ikeda, 6-4, 6-3, and unseeded Ryumi Matsuda eased out India’s Digvijay Singh, 6-0, 6-4, in the semis.
Both finals will be held at 9 a.m. today, according to tournament director Loida Mallare.
It was a sorry setback for the 18-year-old Iglupas, who had looked forward to a rare three-peat after hurdling her first three rivals in convincing fashions. But she struggled against Chang, unable to shake off the Taiwanese in a down-to-the-wire finish in the first set.
Meanwhile, Alberto Lim Jr. and Diego Dalisay, the best local hopes in the boys’ doubles, also succumbed to Malaysian Christian Chin and Singh, 3-6, 6-7(2).
The local bets, meanwhile, hope to bounce back in Week 2 of the annual event set Nov. 22-27. The two-day qualifying matches start today.
After holding serves in the first two games, Iglupas broke Chang but the Taiwanese struck back in the fourth, held serve then broke the former again to go up, 4-2. Iglupas broke again in the seventh, held serve then broke again to seize the initiative at 5-4.
But Chang countered with another break before the duo held serves to send the set into a tiebreaker, which the Taiwanese, who blasted Japanese Shiho Tsukuda, 6-1, 6-1, in the quarters, dominated.
Iglupas later took a double whammy after likewise dropping her doubles match, with Lee, to Chang and Li of China in another tiebreak, 3-6, 6-4 (10-8). Chang and Li will dispute the girls doubles crown against Hsuan Yu Lin of Taiwan and Japanese Shiho Tsukuda, who trounced Shiori Ito and Oby Kajuru of Japan, 6-2, 6-4.