THE Philippine team likes its chances against New Zealand in their Davis Cup final five months from now where promotion in Group 1 of the Asia-Oceania Zone is at stake.
The Filipino Cuppers’ 4-1 triumph over Danai Udomchoke and Thailand during the weekend at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Cebu was definitely a big boost to the team going to their September 13-15 home showdown against the Kiwis.
Team captain Roland Kraut said the Filipino quartet is playing their best tennis now, describing stalwarts Ruben Gonzales, Johnny Arcilla, Francis KC Alcantara, and Treat Huey as a very `solid group.’
“Everybody’s pushing themselves. We have solid teamwork which is the most important, dahil skills-wise, wala namang problema,” said Kraut, appearing in the weekly PSA Forum on Tuesday at Shakey’s Malate along with Gonzales and Arcilla.
The Filipinos hold a 3-2 edge over the Kiwis in their head-to-head meeting in Davis Cup, although the New Zealand blanked the Philippines, 5-0, the last time the two teams met in 2011 in Hawere, NZ.
The Philippines is also a notch higher in world rankings at 40th.
New Zealand scored a 4-1 win over Pakistan in the other semis clash.
Gonzales, 27, and top player of the Philippine team, said he’ll try his best to steer the country past the Kiwis in a bid to return to Group 1 since 2011.
“This (victory over Thailand) is just a step on the road. The ultimate goal for us is to make the World Group someday and we’re taking steps toward that,” said the Fil-Am, whose 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win over Udomchoke in the first reverse singles Sunday clinched the best-of-five tie for the Filipinos.
“If we win (over New Zealand) we’ll make it back to Group 1, and that’s our ultimate goal.”
Kraut said it’s not decided yet where the tie against New Zealand will be held, with Plantation Bay Resort and Spa again or at the Philippine Columbian Association in Manila the main options.
“Any venue can do, but for sure we’ll be playing again in a shell court,” said the young PH Davis Cup team captain.
Gonzales will be coming fresh from his stint in Europe before the Davis Cup final, Huey straight from competing in the US Open, Alcantara in the US NCAA, while Arcilla is suiting up in ITF-sanctioned circuit in Guam.
“As early as now, we already prepared the program and talked about what our schedules are,” added Kraut.