Monday, April 18, 2011

Fair Play: Tennis toughies

IN one thread in a popular boxing forum, somebody said tennis was a sissy sport.

I wanted to throw a retort, but I didn’t since I knew it would be a waste of time.

But during the C. Lhuillier men’s open finals at baseline just the other day, I was reminded of that comment.

“Tennis is for sissies,” the poster said.

It’s not, really. And I think only the misguided, homophobic guys who pretend to be toughies in Internet forums say that.

I hope that thread starter met Julius Abellar. That openly gay player who, by all accounts, made life difficult for Amiel Aya-ay in the qualifiers.

Josenico Peralta is also one fine example. At 58, Nico is not only joining men’s open competitions, but is giving guys young enough to be his grandson a tough time. Last Tuesday, he lost to college player Kim Saraza, 6-3, 6-4, but he was giving the young Saraza—whom he considers a better player than world no. 8 junior player Jason Patrombon—some fits.

The bespectacled and white-haired Peralta was returning Saraza’s power shots with ease, even breaking him once in the first set to take a 3-2 lead.

I’ve seen seniors play and Peralta is not your tyical senior player. It was just too bad that his 58-year-old legs prevented him from getting to the well-placed shots by Saraza. But everything else, including his powerful first serves, posed no problems for Peralta, who was once ranked at No. 54 by the ITF in the seniors division.

I hoped, too, that the poster (poser?) saw the finals match between Johnny Arcilla and PJ Tierro.

Johnny, who is a shade under 5’ 6,” has no business beating Tierro, who is five years younger and about four inches taller.

But beat Tierro, Johnny did. And he did it in spectacular fashion, using his sublime skills to beat Tierro in three sets, 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-3, for the fourth time this year.

Tierro started explosively in that match, breaking Johnny after losing his first serve at 40-15 to go up, 2-1.

From 2-2, he got to 5-2 by winning the next three games which all went to deuce. When Johnny fought back at 5-5, and 6-6, he zoomed to a 5-0 lead in the tiebreak by whipping winners past a stunned Johnny, including a crosscourt backhand baseline zinger that had his doubles partner looking.

So how did the veteran win?

By staying in there, hanging tough and soldiering on. Despite losing his serve at love and trailing 2-0 in the second set, Arcilla waited patiently for the moment to pounce.

He got it in the fourth game, when two Tierro double faults and a wide return got Arcilla three break points. He only needed one and just like that, he was on level terms.

Tierro was a spent man in the third set, with Arcilla zooming to a 5-1 lead to seal his third straight title in four Cebuana Lhuillier Men’s Open finals. Tierro won their first encounter four years ago after an injured Arcilla was forced to retire.

Since then, Johnny has been unstoppable.


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Cebu Football » Fair Play: Tennis toughies | The Tennis News said...

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