THE Philippines shrugged off a slow start to repulse Sri Lanka, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, in the doubles match on Saturday at the Valle Verde Country Club and advance to the second round of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 2 competition.
Treat Huey and Niño Alcantara jelled after falling behind in the opening set as the Filipino duo’s volleys and ground strokes found their mark against the Sri Lankan pair of Sharmal Dissanayake and Dineshkantan Thangarajah.
That enabled the hosts to take an inexorable 3-0 lead after PJ Tierro and Ruben Gonzales won their respective opening singles on Friday as the Cebuana Lhuillier-backed squad gained an early berth in round two of the regional tournament. They will face the survivor of the Chinese Taipei-Lebanon pairing, where the Taiwanese are favored and leading, 2-0.
That result also rendered the two reverse singles matches on Sunday without bearing as dead rubbers.
“This is a good start for the year. ‘Yun naman ang important: to get our confidence back,” non-playing PH skipper Roland Kraut said after the Filipinos lost to Pakistan in the second round of last year’s edition where they squandered a 2-0 lead.
For a while, though, Huey and Alcantara, teaming up for the third time, encountered a tough challenge from the Sri Lankans, who gave the Filipinos a different look as Thangarajah replaced injured Harshana Godamanna to link up with Dissanayake.
But the Pinoys regrouped in the second set and never looked back for the decisive win, their ninth straight tie triumph in their head-to-head matchup.
“They came out on fire in the beginning, but Niño and I knew that if we kept playing our game—being solid and putting pressure on them—it would go our favor,” said Huey, one of the top doubles players in the world. “And we turned it around pretty quick.”
Ahead five games to two in the fourth set and on the verge of victory, Huey and Alcantara had to waste six match points as the tandem yielded serve and lost the next game, before dispatching their continental rivals in the 10th game, capped off a powerful service ace by Huey.