AJ Lim, the country’s top junior player for almost three years now, launched his bid in the ITF Men’s Pro Circuit in grand fashion by downing veteran Daniiar Duldaev of Kyrgyzstan, 6-4, 4-2 (ret.) on Tuesday at the National Tennis Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Toughened by months of training in the US under the supervision of many-time national team player Cecil Mamiit, Lim wore down the 24-year-old Duldaev with pinpoint and clever shots to advance swiftly to the next round.
Backed by Philta president Atty. Antonio Cablitas, Philippine Airlines and the Philippine Sports Commission, Lim, 18, will next face Latvian Martins Podzus in the Futures tournament offering $15,000 in prizes.
The two were playing at press time.
“I hope others will come out to support not only AJ Lim but also other promising tennis players,” said Cablitas, who vowed to revive the image of the sport which enjoyed tremendous popularity in the 80s and early 90s.
Lim credited the huge improvement of his game to Mamiit’s assistant coaches Akio Sy and Orlando Silvosa.
“They spent extended hours in order to polish my game and I’m so grateful for them. They were so patient during my US training,” said Lim, who overpowered three veteran players in advancing to the main draw.
He first defeated Malaysian Chin Christian Didier, 6-4, 2-0 (ret.), before claiming the scalps of Indian K. Anand (6-4, 3-6, 6-4) and Wlfredo Gonzales of Guatemala (6-4, 6-4).
Upon the advise of Mamiit, Lim intends to take part in several Futures events till December to gain the necessary points in order for him to play in much bigger tournaments next year.