Savvy Arcilla grinds way to Olivarez Open netfest title

Savvy Arcilla grinds way to Olivarez Open netfest title
Johnny Arcilla

MANILA, Philippines – Johnny Arcilla defied age and triumphed over younger opponents, defeating Eric Jed Olivarez Jr., 2-6, 6-0, 7-6(5), in a thrilling decider to clinch the Mayor Eric Olivarez National Open Tennis Championships title in Sucat, Parañaque over the weekend.

Facing potential defeat at 4-5 and trailing 30-40 in the third set, Arcilla showcased his indomitable resolve and fighting spirit, bolstered by years of experience in high-pressure situations. He outmaneuvered Olivarez with clever drop shots when baseline rallies seemed to favor his opponent. Arcilla forced a tie, then traded serves in the next two games, setting up a dramatic tiebreaker at the Olivarez Sports Center.

The Davis Cup veteran and multi-titled PCA Open winner, who had previously triumphed over Olivarez in the Lanao del Norte Open finals in June 2023, battled to a 3-all count. He then relied on his veteran savvy and resilience, overcoming a two-point deficit to rack up a decisive four-point streak, pulling off a remarkable win and adding another major championship to his extensive trophy collection.

More than a mere rally, this victory was a testament to the spirit of the 44-year-old warrior, who overcame younger rivals on his way to the finals of the Group A tournament presented by Dunlop. His journey included a commanding 6-2, 6-2 win over Vicente Anasta in the semifinals.

The top-seeded Olivarez demonstrated his prowess in the upper half of the draw, needing to dig deep against Alexis Acabo in the semifinals, carving out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory to set up the showdown with Arcilla. Olivarez had previously defeated Arcilla in the semifinals en route to winning the Hagedorn Open crown in Puerto Princesa last year.

After being shut down in the second set by Olivarez’s strong comeback, the second-ranked Arcilla regained his composure, trading breaks in the first two games of the decider. He fought his 26-year-old rival to a series of hold-hold games in the next six games before surviving the challenge in the 10th game.

Arcilla’s successful weekend was capped by teaming up with Francis Alcantara to fend off Olivarez and Bryan Saarenas, 5-7, 6-4, 10-5, to snare the men’s doubles championship hosted and sponsored by the Olivarez family.

In the juniors category, top seed Al Tristan Licayan dominated the boys’ 16-and-under category with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Lucas Go, capturing the MVP honors alongside Jana Diaz, who claimed two titles in the girls’ division.

Diaz mastered Erynne Ong with a 6-1, 6-1 win in the 16-and-under finals and a 6-1, 6-2 romp in the 18-and-under finals of the two-week-long Group I tournament under the PPS-PEPP program, initiated by Palawan Pawnshop president/CEO Bobby Castro.

Meanwhile, Evan Bacalso thwarted John Benedict Aguilar, 6-3, 7-6(0), in the boys’ 18-and-under finals, while Anthony Castigador overwhelmed Troan Vytiaco, 6-3, 6-2, in the boys’ 14-and-under finals.

Unseeded Daniel Sy defeated No. 5 Jan Caleb Villeno, 6-2, 6-1, to pocket the boys’ 12-and-under title in an event sanctioned by Philta and supported by Universal Ranking, Dunlop, and ICON Golf & Sports.

In the girls’ category, Jan Cadee Dagoon held off Ayl Gonzaga, 6-1, 6-4, to claim the 14-and-under crown, while Etha Seno bested Carolina Fandino, 6-4, 6-3, to secure the 12-and-under title. Yuan Torrente captured the 10-and-under unisex trophy with a 4-1, 4-2 victory over Raven Licayan.

Diaz secured a third title by teaming up with Marielle Jarata to top the girls’ 18-and-under doubles. Other doubles winners included Dania Bulanadi-Dagoon (girls’ 14-and-under), Samuel Davila-Al Tristan Licayan (boys’ 18-and-under), Castigador-Julio Naredo (boys’ 14-and-under), and Joaquin Dacyon-Torrente (10-and-under unisex).

In the Legends category, Rash Manatid and Jerome Bernales took the 30s men’s doubles title, AJ Lim and Gee Abacan clinched the 40s trophy, Aldrin Geluz and Renell Crescini captured the 50s crown, and Adelo Ruado and Alex Quitara claimed the 60s championship.

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