Rafaella Villanueva stuns Nikki Ong to reach Under-18 final of Philta age-group tennis tournament

RAFAELLA Villanueva pounded top seed Nikki Ong with a brilliant all-around game and snatched a 6-3, 6-4 victory on Monday to nail the first finals berth in the girls’ premier division of the fifth PSC-Philta National age-group tennis tournament at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.

The 14-year-old Villanueva await the winner of the semifinal match between Frances Santiago and Colleen Sioson.

Villanueva, daughter of Philippine Tennis Association vice president and Davis Cup administrator Randy Villanueva, has given up participating in her age bracket to focus on the 16 and 18-year-old brackets.

Villanueva topped the 16-under event last year and represented the country in the World Tennis Association age group tournament in Singapore

Santiago also humbled top pick Ong in a thrilling duel, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, to reach the finals of the 16-under section.

Santiago will take on the winner of the other semis duel pitting Nicole Amistad, who pulled the rug from under No. 6 Melanie Faye Dizon, 6-4, 2-6, 10-8, and No. 5 Villanueva, who stunned No. 2 Sioson, 6-3, 6-4.

Jed Labasano, seeded third, also stunned top seed Marcus del Rosario, 7-5, 6-3, to arrange a title duel with No. 2 Stefan Lhuillier, a 6-3, 6-4 winner over No. 4 Aljohn Talatayod, 6-1, 6-4, in the boys’ 14-under category.

No. 5 Samuel Nuguit rode on the crest of his pulsating 4-2, 5-4 (6), 10-4 win over No. 2 Macie Carlos Sunday as he brought down another higher ranked opponent in No. 4 Marc Andrei Jarata, 1-4, 4-2, 4-2, to advance to the boys' 10-unisex finale.

Nuguit will face off with heavily favored Miguel Luis Vicencio, who downed No. 8 James Rohan Cruz, 5-3, 4-0. 

In the girls' 12-under class, fancied Alexan Eala beat No. 4 Gabby Zoleta, 6-0, 6-0, and Miles Vitaliano downed No. 3 Denise Bernardo, 6-0, 6-2, to set up a title match.

Mikaela Vicencio lived up to her top billing by slamming No. 3 Maxine Martin, 6-2, 6-1, to seal a title clash in the girls' 14-under division against No. 2 Miles Vitaliano, 6-3, 6-2.

Ateneo sophomore Cenon Gonzales Jr., 15, upended No. 2 Jerome Romualdez, 6-3, 6-0, to reach the finals of the boys’ 16-under. He will face the winner of the Jake Martin-Justin Suarez semifinal. Martin scored a walkover win over Mark Chapa while Suarez toppled Emmanuel Fuellas, 6-4, 7-6(3).

In the boys' 12-under, No. 1 Aljohn Talatayod edged back Eurydice Gaspar, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, and No. 2 Jan Harold Trillianes repulsed Miguel Vicencio, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, in the tournament sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, held under the auspices of the Philippine Tennis Association and backed by Asiatraders Corp. and Dunlop Fort All Court Balls.



Follow the writer on Twitter: @spinph