LAPU LAPU CITY, Cebu, Philippines – The rigors of his five-set, four-hour doubles setback the other day took their toll on Fil-Am Treat Huey, who fell to a well-rested Chen Ti, 3-6, 6-7(2), 2-6, in yesterday’s deciding reverse singles, giving Chinese Taipei a 3-1 victory over the Philippines in their Asia-Oceania Davis Cup relegation tie here.
“It was a tough match, tough weekend,” said Huey, who fought three draining games the last three days, including a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 win over Chinese Taipei No. 2 Jimmy Wang Friday and a heartbreaking 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-8 loss to Lee Hsin Han and Yi Chu Huan in the Saturday’s doubles where he teamed up with fellow Fil-Am Cecil Mamiit.
Youth standout Jeson Patrombon, who subbed for Mamiit in the non-bearing second reverse singles, beat Wang, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, at Plantation Bay Resorts and Spa.
The tie thus ended at 3-2 for Chinese Taipei, which also beat the Philippines the last time they met in Taiwan last year.
The loss, however, failed to dampen the Filipino netters’ spirit as they saw a promising future for the country’s Davis Cup squad.
“Jeson (Patrombon) showed us the future bright for Phl tennis, we’ll start next year and the team is young,” said Huey, who played a total of more than eight hours through three games, including a four-hour classic in the doubles that Chinese Taipei barely won.
“There’s a lot of good matches ahead of us, we’ll get back to Group I and probably in the world group,” he added.
“That’s what we came for here, to represent the country well and show fighting spirit for the Filipinos who are here,” said the 35-year-old veteran campaigner.
“Even though we’re down, we did our best and we still gave a positive vibe for the future, it’s a great future, in fact.
“It’s just unfortunate that we lost but I think we gained a lot of experience, especially our younger players,” added Mamiit referring to the 18-year-old Patrombon and the other Fil-Am Ruben Gonzalez, 26.
The victory, meanwhile, kept Chinese Taipei in Group I for the seventh straight year while sending the Cebuana Lhuillier-backed Filipinos’ to Group II alongside Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Hong Kong and Pacific Oceania.
“We formed a strategy going into this game, I tried to force him (Huey) to hit with his backhand and make him run more, that’s our strategy,” said Chen.
“I didn’t expect this match to be that short because I was ready for a five-set game, today (yesterday) I really just prepared well,” he added.
South Korea, which lost a sorry 2-3 decision to Mamiit and Huey last year, regained its spot in Group I after drubbing Thailand, 3-0, in Group II matches.
The Filipinos’ campaign was backed by Cebuana Lhuillier, Plantation Bay Resorts and Spa, Accel, Slazenger Balls, Lapu-Lapu City and Philippine Sports Commission, will slide back to Group II after jumping to Group I two years ago.
Huey, currently at 59th in the Association of Tennis Professionals doubles rankings, actually took a 3-1 lead in the first set and went up 3-0 and 5-2 in the second. But he failed to sustain his charge, enabling Chen to come back and win the first two sets.
Huey tried to buck fatigue and all in the third but lost his poise after Chen broke him and went on to finish the match and the tie in a little over two hours.
“I was down in the first and second sets because in the beginning I had a hard time finding my rhythm and responding to his (Huey) big serves,” said Chen.
“But I tried to come because I know I’m better conditioned and I keep trying to make a run and I know in the end I could make it so even if I was down.
“I didn’t feel I’m winning though until the last point because he always fights back and people cheer for him,” he added.
Chen also stressed they got a little bit lucky because they played with four players against a Phl team that relied heavily on Mamiit and Huey.
“I respect Cecil and Huey, they’re really good and we almost lost 3-0 in the first two days,” he said. “But we got lucky for this victory because they just have two players against our four players, we really have more advantage,” said Chen.
Patrombon, meanwhile, rebounded from a lopsided loss in the first set of his best-of-three duel with Wang as he came through with big shots to sweep the last two sets.
After winning the game with an ace, Patrombon raised his hands in triumph and rushed to his teammates.
“Thank you for supporting the team,” said Patrombon, coached and trained by Manny Tecson, in Filipino. “Even if it’s non-bearing, I came to play and to win.”