Shaira Rivera bucked the odds and upended fourth seed Frances Santiago, 6-4, 6-3, to crash into the semifinal round of the ladies singles of the Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala Tuna Festival Open Tennis Championship at the Gen. Santos City Tennis Club in Gen. Santos City yesterday.
Rivera, the 17-year-old star from Davao, leaned on her solid baseline game and superb court coverage to break Santiago in the opening frame then sustained her form to dominate the next and stay in title hunt in the top-level tournament tournament presented by Slazenger.
But the veteran of the WTA Future Stars in Singapore will need more than breaks when she slugs it out with top seed Clarice Patrimonio for a spot in the finals of the event backed by Asiatraders Corp., exclusively distributor of Slazenger, the official ball.
Patrimonio also dished out top form to bundle out Patricia Velez, 6-1, 6-4, even as second seed Khim Iglupas stayed on track for another crack at the crown with a similar 6-1, 6-4 romp over Shary delos Santos in the lower half of the draw.
But Iglupas, winner of the recent Olivarez Cup, expects a tougher outing when she faces third seed Hannah Espinosa, who eased out Kathleney Arandia, 6-1, 6-0, for the other championship berth.