Coming off back-to-back victories in Cainta, Rizal and Apalit, Pampanga, Johnny Arcilla shifts his focus to Cebu as he tries to cap another prolific season in the Naga Open National Tennis Championships unfolding Friday at the City of Naga tennis courts.
The 42-year-old Arcilla has dominated not only the last two Open singles of the annual circuit under the PPS-PEPP banner, but also the Puerto Princesa Open last October and the Pintaflores Festival Open in San Carlos, Negros Occidental last month, making him the player to beat in the upcoming Group A tournament serving as part of the Dagitab Festival celebrations.
But a mix of young and seasoned campaigners go all-out to foil his bid, including second seed Jose Maria Pague, Vicente Anasta, Eric Jed Olivarez, Norman Enriquez, Maclean Barraquias, Stephen Guia and Charles Kinaadman, whom Arcilla beat in the Brookside and Zentro Open the past two weeks.
But Kinaadman, who upended Arcilla in the semis and went on to capture the Gov. Jubahib Cup Open in Davao del Norte last September, hopes to draw inspiration from his fellow Cebuanos with an eye on getting back at the veteran Davis Cupper and fuel his own title bid.
If the chart goes according to form, Arcilla and the fifth-ranked Kinaadman may meet again in the Final Four.
Jeremiah Tomacruz, John Altiche, Christian Lopez, Nilo Ledama, Bryan Saarenas, Kristian Tesorio, Elvin Geluz, Jelic Amazona, Jan Seno and Israel Abarquez Jr. are also vying in the tournament.
Arcilla switches partners as he links up with Anasta in pursuit of another doubles diadem with Zentro Open teammate Nilo Ledama now with Pague with Kinaadman and Olivarez forging a strong partnership.
Meanwhile, 20 bidders slug it out for four berths in tomorrow’s qualifiers with the likes of Noel Salupado, Hakim Boloto, Pablo Gonzaga, Joseph Singson, Chat Conta, Hans Cabellon, Gio Manito and Vince Serna tipped to clash for spots into the 32-player main draw.
Also on tap are the Legends 35 and 45 men’s singles, the Legends men’s doubles 40s and 50s and the Classified men’s doubles.