Jose Maria Pague outdueled doubles partner Norman Enriquez in a gripping first set skirmish then used a strong start in the next to carve out a 7-6(3), 6-4 decision and capture the Buglasan Festival National Open tennis crown at the Praxevilla hard courts in Dumaguete City last Wednesday.
Pague proved steadier than Enriquez in a back-and-forth clash in the opening frame, pulling through in the tiebreak after a break-break exchange that tied them at 6.
The Zamboanga native broke Enriquez in the second game of the second set before thwarting a fightback to complete the victory worth P15,000.
It was a rousing win for Pague, who gained inspiration and motivation from his semifinal setback to seasoned and eventual winner Johnny Arcilla in the recent Puerto Princesa Open.
Meanwhile, Mcleen Gomera and Kimi Brodeth set out as the top picks in the premier 18-and-under side as action in the PPS-PEPP Dumaguete City national age-group championships got under way yesterday, also at the Praxevilla courts.
Pague completed his big week as he and Enriquez survived Stephen Guia and Roy Tan, 6-3, 5-7, 10-3, in the semis then crushed Mclean Barraquias and Kenneth Banico, 6-2, 6-3, to nail the doubles title worth P10,000 in the week-long event held in conjunction with Negros Oriental’s premier festival celebrations.
Earlier, Pague scored a 4-2(ret.) win over Roy Tan in the quarters then dominated John Tomacruz, 6-2, 6-2, while Enriquez ripped Jess Tayron, 4-0, 4-1, then turned back Barraquias, 6-4, 7-5.
In the finals, Pague broke Enriquez right in the first game but the latter broke back in the fourth and the sixth to wrest control at 4-2.
But Pague countered with his own break in the seventh then exchanged breaks again in the 11th and 12th games to send the match to a tiebreaker, which he, however, dominated.
Pague sustained his form in the next set and went 3-up but Enriquez refused to give up, taking the next two games before the former fought back and grabbed the next two.
Enriquez stayed in the hunt by holding serve in the eighth and breaking Pague in the next but the latter struck back with his own break feat in the 10th to wrap up the fierce encounter.