DEFENDING champion Patrick John Tierro starts his title-retention campaign in the 34th Philippine Columbian Association (PCA) Open-Cebuana Lhuillier wildcard event Thursday in the recently-renovated PCA Open clay courts in Paco, Manila.
The 30-year-old Tierro expects tough competition in the men’s singles division as out to challenge him are eight-time titlist Johnny Arcilla and former Australian Open juniors champ Francis Casey Alcantara, two of the other fancied players in the tournament supported by Cebuana Lhuillier, Puma, Dunlop, Philippine Star, Head, Babolat, Compass/IMOSTI and Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao.
While Arcilla remains a threat as he tries to reclaim his crown, Tierro is keeping an eye on the younger Alcantara, who thwarted his title bid in the Olivarez Cup finals last month.
With automatic slots in the 2015 Manila International Tennis Federation (ITF) Men’s Futures Leg 2 at stake, the competition in the men’s side is expected to be a close one.
“We at Cebuana Lhuillier are excited to renew our commitment to support the PCA Open especially with this year's edition being an international -laden tournament. This will provide our top players the chance to test their mettle against some of the world's best players and improve their world rankings,” said Cebuana Lhuillier President/CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier.
“Their experience here will serve them in good stead when they represent our country in international competitions such as Davis Cup, Southeast Asian Games, and Asian Games,” he added.
The two finalists in the men’s singles will earn berths in the main draw, while those who make it into the quarterfinals and semifinals will have a chance to compete in the qualifying stage when the ITF event unfurls on October 2 in the PCA courts in Paco, Manila.
In the doubles division, only the winning duo will be given a slot in the 16-pair main draw of the event also backed by Whilpool/Fujidenzo, Broadway Motor Sales Corp. Coca-Cola Fesma Philippines, Tyrecorp Incorporated, Pearl Garden Hotel and Metro Global Holdings Corporation.
Veteran players Alberto Lim Jr. Elbert Anasta, Kyle Joshua Dandan, Marc Reyes, Jurence Mendoza, and Jeson Patrombon will also vie for the available spots in the ITF Men’s Futures Leg 2.
The ladies’ side is going to be a wide-open race.
Without four-time champion Marian Jade Capadocia, the Patrimonio sisters – Anna Christine and Anna Clarice – have emerged as the top contenders for the title that has eluded them for years.
Equally-impressive Khim Iglupas, Roxanne Resma, Edilyn Balanga, Marinel Rudas, Mae Siso, Hannah Espinosa, Maia Balce, and Erika Manduriao are also seeing action in the distaff side which starts on Sept 22