Mindanao Times

Pantino topples big guns, claims PPS Dagitab Open


ARTHUR Pantino enhanced a promising tennis career by upending two of the country’s top guns, stunning top seed Johnny Arcilla in the semis then upending No. 2 and SEA Games gold medalist Jeson Patrombon, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1, to clinch the PPS-PEPP Dagitab Festival Open crown at the City of Naga Tennis Courts in Cebu yesterday.

The 18-year-old University of San Carlos ace held his ground against the veteran Arcilla and pulled off a surprise 6-3, 6-4 victory then kept his poise against Patrombon, winning their thrilling baseline duel that saw him fight off three match points before dominating the decider to hack out the stirring triumph.

Pantino, who scored back-to-back victories in the ITF (Internatio­nal Tennis Federation) junior circuit and swept the two-leg PHINMA juniors at the Manila Polo Club this year, pocketed the top P40,000 purse in the event put up by Palawan Pawnshop Palawan Express Pera Padala headed by president/MEan Bobby Castro and presented by Dunlop.

“It’s inspiring to see young talents hold their own against the veterans and then coming out as winners. Pantino just showed that through hard work and determinat­ion, anything is possible,” said Palawan Pawnshop president/ CEO Bobby Castro.

Ranked 10th in a field of 64, the Cebu-based Pantino rolled past Jolo Basa, 6-0, 6-2, repulsed No. 7 Leander Lazaro, then routed third seed Vicente Anasta, 6-1, 6-2, in the quarters.

Ranged against manytime Davis Cup campaigner Arcilla in the semis, Pantino didn’t flinch and carved out the straight-set win, but cracked against Patrombon in the finals, blowing a 5-3 first set lead by yielding the next four games and the set.

But down 3-5 in the second, Pantino held serve in the ninth game then rallied from 0-40 in the 10th by stringing five straight points then outlasting Patrombon in the tiebreaker to force the decider, which the former dominated as the latter lost steam while battling his younger, fired-up rival in long baseline rallies.

Patrombon, however, got back at his singles tormentor as he teamed up with Casey Alcantara to beat Pantino and Arcilla, 6-3, 7-6(6), to nail their second straight doubles crown after beating compatriot­s Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales Jr. in the SEA Games.

Other winners in the

event held as part of the province’s Dagitab Festival celebratio­ns were Mark Alcoseba-Roy Tan (30s), Jonathan Largo-Eric Longakit (40s) and Mario Guillemer-Roy Tabotabo (50s) in the Legends division and Jayson Benitez in 40s singles.

Meanwhile, next up is the Fr. Fernando Suarez Cup, which features the men’s singles Open, men’s doubles and Legends 30s, 40s and 50s categories. For details, call PPS-PEPP Sports Program Developmen­t director Bobby Mangunay at 0915-4046464.

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