Tierro, Santiago start bid for ATP Philippine Open

MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine No. 1 Patrick John Tierro and Fil-Am Mico Santiago begin their quest for spots in the main draw as they compete in today’s start of the qualifying round of the $75,000 ATP Challenger Philippine Open at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.

Tierro, a 30-year-old Davis Cup veteran, and Santiago, a 21-year-old campaigner currently ranked 738th in the world, were given wild cards in the qualifier in the top-ranking meet organized by the Sports Events Entertainment Management, Inc.

Tierro and Santiago are seeking to join Fil-Am Ruben Gonzales and Francis Casey Alcantara, AJ Lim and Jeson Patrombon in the main draw of the tournament backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Tennis Association, Cebuana Lhuillier, Dunlop and Chris Sports, starting Monday.

Alcantara, Lim and Patrombon received wild card slots awarded the host country while Gonzales made it after American Frances Tiafoe backed out at the last minute.

Tiafoe, a 17-year-old phenom tipped to be the next big thing for US tennis, pulled out after advancing in the qualifying rounds of the ongoing Australian Open.

The meet, with all matches set at 11 a.m. and aired over TV5, will also coincide with the opening of the newly roofed and re-surfaced courts with a new set of lighting that allows night matches.

“This is the type of tournament that propels players to big-time tennis, so we have reason to hope for the best,” said Philta vice president Randy Villanueva.

Patrombon, back from his rigid three-week training in Chinese Taipei, said he likes his chances.

“This is a very tough tournament where even the top 200 in the world need to make qualifying. but my mindset here is to win one match at a time and see how it goes,” said the 22-year-old Patrombon, who also received a wild card entry in the doubles where he will team up with Indonesian Christopher Rungkat.

Philippine Tennis Association chair Jean Henri Lhuillier yesterday said the hosting of the ATP Challenger Philippines is big for local tennis.

“I’m so happy with the opportunity to hold this world-class tournament here in the country. It’s a big boost to the popularity of the sport in the Philippines as well as the development of our top players,” said Lhuillier.

“Now they have the chance to test their skills against higher level opposition without spending so much to travel abroad,” he added.

Alcantara, who played college ball for US NCAA Division I Pepperdine University, is also expected to launch a serious bid after he made it to the quarterfinals of the Manila Futures last year.

Source: Philstar.com