RUBEN Gonzales sets in motion the country’s Davis Cup campaign against New Zealand on Friday in their Asia-Oceania Group II final tie at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.
Gonzales, a Fil-American and the Philippines’ top netter, takes on New Zealand No. 2 player Michael Venus in the first singles match of the best-of-five tie at 4 p.m.
Filipino No. 2 Johnny Arcilla then takes on Kiwis’ top-ranked player Jose Statem – rated no. 293 in the world – in the second singles match.
“I feel really good,” said Gonzales during the official draw held on Thursday.
Gonzales said he won both his two matches against Venus back in college and in a semi-pro tournament, although that doesn’t guarantee another victory for the Fil-Am player.
“He’s a great player and I’m looking forward to the match,” he said.
Treat Huey, fresh from a quarterfinal stint in the US Open doubles tournament, meanwhile, teams up with Francis Casey Alcantara in Saturday’s doubles against Venus and Marcus Daniell at 6 p.m. Huey is currently ranked 32nd in world doubles.
In the reverse singles on Sunday starting at 4 p.m., Gonzales goes up against Statem, before Arcilla battles Venus.
The winner of the tie will be promoted to Group 1 of the premier international team event in men’s tennis.
“It’s the draw that we want. We just hope to have a good match tomorrow and take it from there,” said Philippine Davis Cup administrator Randy Villanueva.
The Filipinos are coming off a 4-1 victory over Thailand in the second round to set up a final date with New Zealand, a 4-1 winner over Pakistan in their own semifinal tie.
The Philippines holds a 3-2 edge over New Zealand in their Davis Cup meetings.