NOT even an impressive performance in the first round of the Davis Cup tie against Sri Lanka will assure the same Philippine team’s appearance in the Southeast Asian Games in June.
Ruben Gonzales, Treat Huey, Niño Alcantara, and PJ Tierro swept the Sri Lankans, 5-0, to advance to the second round of Davis Cup play opposite Chinese Taipei, but no one is considered a shoo-in for the biennial meet with plenty of other players to choose from.
“We have up-and-coming players, probably the next batch of Davis Cuppers. I hope they keep working hard, so we’ll see,” national coach Karl Santamaria told Spin.ph after the last match of the tie on Sunday.
Santamaria rattled off the names of promising teenagers AJ Lim and Jurence Mendoza, another young standout in Jeson Patrombon, as well as veteran Johnny Arcilla as the other candidates who will fight for slots in the SEA Games roster.
“It’s a good problem to have,” said Santamaria, who will give a recommendation to the Philippine Tennis Association regarding the composition of the men's lineup, usually made up of four to six players.
The 29-year-old Huey, though, appears to be a lock, having won a gold medal in the mixed doubles with Denise Dy and a silver in the men’s team event with Patrombon and Cecil Mamiit in the 2011 edition of the Games in Indonesia.
Lawn tennis was dropped from the 2013 staging in Myanmar.
One thing going for the current lineup is its versatility, Santamaria noted.
“Everyone in this team can play singles and doubles. We’re happy with how they played,” then national mentor said as doubles standouts Huey and Alcantara delivered in their respective reverse singles matches.
“Hopefully we’ll have the same team for SEA Games and everybody will be ready,” Huey said. “We have a very good group and I’m excited to play.”
“It’s a good first step this week,” the Filipino-American star added. “We want to continue it in the SEA Games and the next Davis Cup tie.”