THE quest to regain its place among the region’s best starts for the Cebuana Lhuillier-Philippine Davis Cup team when it collides with Sri Lanka in the opener of their Asia/Oceania Group 2 tie on Friday at the Valle Verde Country Club.
Relegated to Group 2 for the fourth straight year, the Filipino netters hope to return to the top tier by 2016 and the first obstacle standing in their way is a Sri Lankan side they’ve mastered the last few years.
The country’s top netter PJ Tierro seeks to give the hosts a head start in the three-day competition when he takes on Harshana Godamanna in the opening singles at 4 p.m., while Ruben Gonzales tangles with young Sri Lankan star Sharmal Dissanayake in the second match.
Treat Huey, one of the top doubles players in the world, teams up with Francis Alcantara when they face off against Godamanna and Dissanayake in the doubles event the next day.
“I think both teams would want to win right away in the first two days, but we’re taking it one game at a time,” non-playing PH skipper Roland Kraut said after the drawing of lots on Thursday.
“We’re not looking too far ahead,” he added. “We’re focusing on our tasks in the first day. Pero syempre gusto natin lamang tayo agad.”
Tierro meets Dissanayake, while Gonzales and Godamanna battle in the reverse singles in the last day of the tie on Sunday.
The Sri Lankans have two more players in Dineshkantan Thangarajah and Sankha Atukarle, who can replace Dissanayake and Godamanna.
The PH netters are installed as favorites, having beaten Sri Lanka in their last eight meetings, the last a 3-1 rout in Colombo last year.
“Looking at the two teams, the Philippines is the better team, but you never know,” said Godamana, who, however, beat Tierro in their meeting last year.
The Philippines has chosen to host the tie in Valle Verde's shell courts.
“It’s a different surface and a different time last year,” Tierro said. “We’ve prepared a lot for this time and we’ll see how it goes.”