"WE HAVE GOOD CHANCES AGAINST JAPAN" - LHUILLIER
The forthcoming Group I Davis Cup tie match between the Philippines and Japan, set February 8 to 10 at the Rizal Memorial tennis courts at the RMSC, will be a big test for the men’s national tennis team headed by Fil-Am and SEA Games hero Cecil Mamiit.
Backstopping Mamiit, who played a key role in the one gold, 2 silver 1 bronze medal haul of the team in the last SEA Games, including the singles championship, are American-based Eric Taino, and homegrown talents Johnny Arcilla, Patrick Tierro, and future tennis starts Kyle Dandan and Pablo Olivarez.
And according to sportsman-businessman Jean Henri Lhuillier, who has been named anew as the Philippine Davis Cup team manager with Cebuana Lhuillier as the official team sponsor, “I believe we have good chances against Japan next month and our boys have been training regularly in preparation for this first Group I matches we will be playing after a long time. The fact that the team played together at the SEA Games before this Davis Cup will be in our favor and of course with the Philippines hosting the event here, we will have the home town and home court advantage,” said Lhuillier.
The fact that the RP tennis team members also were given the opportunity to play in some international tournaments prior to the Davis Cup match should also put them in the needed competition mode and condition, Lhuiillier added.
Mamiit was set to play this January in Hawaii and China while Arcilla and Tierro were scheduled to play in India to serve as tune-up matches.
On his part, Mamiit before he left for the United States last month said “Japan will be tough but I think we are pretty much even with their players now even if they may be favored on paper because they have more internationally ranked players, in the late 90’s, I remember the Philippines beating Japan in a Group I meeting. Crowd support will be important and since they will be probably coming in from cold weather, the playing conditions should be in our favor. But still, we should always give respect to them as strong opponents and we need to continue to work harder.”
If the Philippines gets past Japan, next opponent will be the winner of the other Group I match between India and Uzbekistan.
As early as now, the Philippine Lawn Tennis Association (PHILTA) is leaving no stone unturned in their preparation to host this important Group I match between Japan and the Philippines.