PH netters target 2 golds in SEA Games

MANILA — The Philippine tennis delegation hopes to win at least two gold medals in the 29th Southeast Asian Games which will be held from August 19 to 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Two years ago in Singapore, Filipino-Americans Treat Huey and Denise Dy ruled the mixed doubles event — the country’s only gold in tennis.

This year, Huey begged off to don the national colors in Malaysia.  Dy will try to defend the title with US-based Filipino Ruben Gonzales.

“We’re looking at two golds in the SEA Games,” said Cris Cuarto, head coach of the men’s team, in an interview on Wednesday.

Cuarto, who has been a member of the coaching staff since the 2009 Laos SEA Games, said the gold medals may come from the women’s singles, women’s doubles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles events.

“It is unfortunate that Treat cannot play. But we have Ruben, who is also a very talented player,” said Cuarto, a former member of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tennis champion San Beda College.

Joining Gonzales in the men’s team are Francis Casey Alcantara, Jeson Patrombon and Alberto Lim Jr.

Dy will rejoin Filipino-German Katharina Lehnert and homegrown talents Khim Iglupas and Anna Clarice Patrimonio in the women’s team. Head coach is former player Czarina Mae Arevalo.

Aside from the gold in mixed doubles, the Philippines also won three silvers and four bronzes in 2015. The silver medals came from the men’s doubles (Gonzales and Patrombon), women’s doubles (Dy and Lehnert) and the women’s team of Dy, Iglupas, Lehnert and Patrimonio.

The bronze winners were Gonzales, Patrombon, Alcantara and Huey (men’s team); Alcantara and Huey (men’s doubles; Lehnart (women’s singles) and Patrombon (men’s singles).

Alcantara has improved his world’s doubles rankings to No. 369 after winning four doubles titles this year. He played 10 weeks in a row to prepare for the the SEA Games.

“We expect a strong challenge from Thailand and Indonesia,” said Alcantara of Cagayan de Oro City.

Dy and Huey won their first mixed doubles gold during the 2011 Myanmar SEA Games.