WITH the Philippines again holding the home court edge, non-playing team captain Roland Kraut certainly likes the country’s chances against Thailand in the semifinals of their Asia-Oceania Group II Davis Cup tie slated two months from now.
Kraut said familiarity with the slow surface of the Plantation Bay in Cebu is definitely to the advantage of the Filipino Cuppers, not to mention the crowd support they expect to enjoy just like in their first-round meeting with Syria early this month which the host won, 4-1.
The Philippine-Thailand Davis Cup tie is set on April 5-7.
“We can’t get any better than this,” Kraut said in the weekly PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate on Tuesday. “We definitely have a very good chance (against Thailand).”
But things are better said than done.
Although the Filipinos are ranked a notch higher than the Thais at No.2 in Group II, the visitors will be parading a tough lineup led by veteran and world No. 190 Danai Udomchoke.
The singles gold medal winner during the 2006 Asian Games, the 31-year-old native of Bangkok led the Thais to a 4-1 drubbing of Kuwait in the opening round.
The Thais also have former world top 10 contender Paradorn Srichaphan as non-playing team captain.
“This one is really more of a rivalry, so I think the crowd will be more into it,” said Kraut in the session presented by Shakey’s and the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation.
The Philippines holds a 3-2 edge over Thailand in their all-time Davis Cup head-to-head meetings, although the Thais have won the last two ties including the 1999 match-up when Joseph Lizardo was still the face of local tennis.
Kraut said he’ll again choose from a list of six players to comprise the team, among them Ruben Gonzales, Treat Huey, Johnny Arcilla, Vicente Anasta, Jason Patrombon, and Nino Alcantara.
In the event the Filipinos get past the Thais, they’ll remain host of the finals set on September 14 against the winner of the New Zealand-Pakistan tie for the right to be promoted in Group 1.
“We’re hosting all three ties kaya it’s a very good opportunity for us to be promoted back to Group 1,” said Kraut.