Philippine Cuppers sweep Group II tie vs Kuwait

MANILA, Philippines – Jeson Patrombon wore down Abdulhamid Mubarak, 7-6(5), 6-3, while Francis Casey Alcantara overpowered Ali Ghareeb, 6-2, 6-1, to complete Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippine team’s sweep of their Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group II tie at the Valle Verde Country Club in Pasig City yesterday.

Patrombon, who thumped Kuwait No. 2 Abdulrahman Alawadhi, 6-0, 6-2, 6-1, in the opening singles Friday, struggled in the early going against Mubarak, barely pulling off the win in the first set. But the former world juniors No. 9 regained his bearing and rhythm in the second frame to dominate the rest of the way.

Alcantara later stamped his class over Ghareeb, dropping just three games to cap the Filipinos’ domination of their tie that put them on track for a place in Group I next year. “I’m so happy with the performance of all our players. Their international exposure the past months really showed in this tie. I’m confident that we could move back to Group 1 next year with this team,” said team manager and Philippine Tennis Association chairman Jean Henri Lhuillier.

After dispatching Kuwait in emphatic fashion, the team has set its sights on arch rival Chinese Taipei as it steps up its drive towards a return to Group I. “I feel we have a better shot than we had last year,” said Phl non-playing team captain Karl Santamaria, moments after the Filipinos swept the opening singles and the doubles over the weekend.

Fil-Am Treat Conrad Huey and US-schooled Alcantara demolished Abdulrahman Alawadhi and Abdulhamid Mubarak, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2, in the doubles to seal their Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group II tie.

Patrombon, the country’s No. 1 with a world singles ranking of 1198, handily took out Alawadhi while Ruben Gonzales outlasted Kuwait No. 1 Mohammad Ghareeb, 7-6 (2), 6-3, 1-6, 6-7 (6), 5-5 (ret.), in last Friday’s opening singles that gave the hosts a commanding 2-0 lead.

Then Huey and Alcantara hammered in the one-sided match-clinching doubles victory.

The Phl will next take on Taipei either at Valle Verde, Camarines Sur or Bacolod City on July 15-17.

Chinese Taipei defeated Malaysia, 3-1, behind Huang Liang Chi’s 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Mohd Assri Merzuki in yesterday’s reverse singles.

The Phl has beaten Chinese Taipei in their first four meetings but lost two in a row, including a heartbreaking 2-3 defeat at the Plantation Bay two years ago and a 1-3 setback in Kaoshiung, Chinese Taipei last year.

Alcantara, who didn’t see action in the Chinese Taipei tie last year because of his US studies, said the team is eyeing no less than redemption.

“It will be a good match because of the revenge factor,” said Alcantara, unbeaten in all four doubles matches with Huey.

Santamaria also said the Phl’s chances improved without Lu Yen Hsun, who is ranked 94th in the world.

“He isn’t playing anymore,” said Santamaria, referring to Lu, who was listed in the Chinese Taipei roster versus Malaysia but didn’t play.

The Phl also hopes to bank on the proverbial home crowd.

“We will be having the homecourt advantage and I think it will be a big factor,” said Lhuillier.