Emmauel Villaruel, Freeman News Service | Updated Wednesday August 21, 2013 - 12:00am
CEBU CITY, Philippines - The Philippines hopes to draw out the best from its talent-laden crew and cash in on its homecourt advantage as it faces a tough New Zealand side in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group II finals Sept. 13-15 at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City here.
"This is the first time that we'll be playing against a non-Asian team and New Zealand is tough. The fact that they made it to the finals only shows how good they are as a team," said Davis Cup Philippine administrator Randy Villanueva during the signing of the memorandum of agreement formalizing Lapu-Lapu's fifth hosting of the prestigious event yesterday at the Savannah lounge of the posh resort.
"The Kiwis will also be coming over here early to prepare. It only shows how important this tie is for them," added Villanueva.
Others present in the MOA signing were Lapu-Lapu Mayor Paz Radaza, Councilor Don Harry Radaza, Plantation Bay vice president for marketing Efren Belarmino and acting general manager Nenette Castillon.
While admitting New Zealand poses a real challenge, Villanueva remains upbeat of the Pinoys' chances given their familiarity of the playing court coupled with the so-called "homecourt" advantage.
"We're going to host them again on our favorite surface. With our players' familiarity of the court and the support of the home crowd, we have good chances," said Villanueva.
The winner of the tie will be promoted to the elite Group I in the 2014 season. Phl was demoted from Group I after suffering back-to-back losses to Japan and Chinese-Taipei in 2011. But the Filipinos edged Syria, 3-2, and trounced Thailand, 4-1, last April to gain another crack.
While Phl handily beat the Thais to barge into the third and final round, New Zealand completed just one rubber, and lost it, in their second round battle against Pakistan. But the Kiwis advanced as the Davis Cup organizers awarded them the victory due to an unplayable court at neutral venue in Myanmar.Fil-Ams Treat Conrad Huey and Ruben Gonzales are expected to banner the country's campaign in the three-day meet along with Johnny Arcilla, Francis Casey Alcantara and Jeson Patrombon. Others being considered are Elbert Anasta and Patrick John Tierro. Deadline for official team nominations is on Sept. 3.