THE CEBUANA Lhullier-Philippine Davis Cup team hopes the hometown crowd will be a big factor when it plays Sri Lanka in its Asia/Oceania Group 2 tie from March 6-8 at Valle Verde Country Club.
Head coach Karl Santamaria on Wednesday said they hope to bank on the interest generated by the successful International Premier Tennis League which kicked off its maiden leg in Manila last November.
Grand Slam veteran Treat Huey, who played for the Manila Mavericks along with superstars Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, will be seeing action in Manila for the first time since the IPTL.
“I talked to Treat and he said that of all the four legs if the IPTL, the Manila leg was the most successful,” said Santamaria.
"So we hope it generated that much interest for tennis and people show up. One of our supposed advantage is the hometown crowd.”
The drawing of lots will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday also at Valle Verde which is hosting the Davis Cup for the first time.
Opening singles matches on Friday will begin at 4 p.m. with the opening ceremony at 3:30 p.m. The doubles match on Saturday and reverse singles on Sunday will begin at 3 p.m.
Also donning the tricolors are Pepperdine University standout Francis Casey Alcantara, PH No. 1 PJ Tierro, and Ruben Gonzales who just won an ATP Challenger singles title last week in Mexico. Roland Kraut will serve as non-playing captain.
The Philippines, backed by Cebuana Lhuillier, Yonex, Pasig City and the Philippine Sports Commission, has never lost to Sri Lanka in all eight clashes in the past, but Santamaria said they are not taking chances because the Sri Lankans will brandish a new player in Sharmal Dissanayake.
The 19-year-old Dissanayake, who won ATP points in Sri Lanka this year, didn’t see action when the Philippines scored a 3-1 rout in Colombo.
Santamaria added the team is working on finally going back to elite Group 1 next year, “but we are taking it one tie at a time.”
He added the Philippines came very close to achieving the feat last year after beating Sri Lanka. However, the PH Cuppers dropped a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Pakistan in the semifinals.
Sri Lanka team is also composed of Harsahana Godamanna, Dineshkantan Thangarajah and Sankha Atukarale. Non-playing captain is Rohan Silva.
Tickets are priced at P1,000 for a three-day pass, and P500 for a day pass. New Zealand’s David Smith will be the head ITF referee.