Jose Maria Pague gains the top seeding in the absence of injured Johnny Arcilla but the spotlight will be on Alberto Lim and a bevy of aces all primed for a clash of power and styles in the Gov. Franklin Bautista National Open Tennis Championships at the Malita courts in Davao Occidental.
The week-long, top-ranking event got under way yesterday with Pague and the other seeded bets tipped to hurdle their respective first round matches although reversals are not ruled out given the depth of the field.
Pague yielded a 4-6, 3-6 result to Bryan Otico in a riveting title duel last year with Pague out to settle an unfinished business this week against a field eager and ready to slug it out for one of the richest prizes staked in an Open tournament plus UTP and UTR rating points.
The men’s singles winner will pocket P100,000 and trophy with the runner-up to receive P50,000 plus trophy and ranking points. The men’s doubles champions will also get P80,000.
Leading the contenders’ list are Josshua Kinaadman, Eric Jed Olivarez, Eric Tangub, Alexis Acabo, Jude Ceniza and Eury Gaspar.
But Lim looms as the marked player in the P403,000 event after the former University of the East standout bucked the odds and won the recent Olivarez Cup, ending a three-year title spell.
As he had consistently done during his campaign, Lim banked on his aggressive play to overpower Fritz Verdad, 6-2, 6-1, in the finals with the 24-year-old ace likely to switch on the attack mode again to fuel another title run.
Meanwhile, Kinaadman and Olivarez get the top ranking in doubles play with Pague teaming up with Jude Padao, Ceniza with Tangub, Christian Lopez with John Accion and Lim with Lance Fernandez.