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World No. 6 Tsitsipas may face PH Cuppers next month

By Kristel Satumbaga



If plans push through, Filipinos will get the chance to know how good world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas is when the Philippine team members battle the Greeks in the Davis Cup World Group II playoffs on March 6 to 7 at the Philippine Columbian Association claycourt in Paco, Manila.

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates after defeating Spain’s Rafael Nadal during their ATP Madrid Open semi-final tennis match at the Caja Magica in Madrid. (AFP)

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas 

The Greeks, however, have until Tuesday to submit their lineup that will face the Nationals, who are all hoping and praying that the sport’s rising star will come to the country.

In the event Tsitsipas will be nominated to play, his presence alone would be enough to draw interest and somehow whet the appetite of Filipinos for a high-level of play.

The 21-year-old Greek ace made history last year when he became the youngest player to win the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

He has also beaten the so-called Big 3 of the sport – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

The event marks the first time the Nationals will be facing a non-Asian team – thanks to a new tournament format.

Tsitsipas saw action for the Greek squad in last year’s Group III Europe Zone. He made it to the quarters of the Australian Open last month.

The last time the Filipino Cuppers battled a non-Asian team was 29 years ago when Felix Barrientos and company met Sweden in the World Group Qualifiers at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

Under the new format, 12 home-and-away ties in World Group II playoffs will be played at the same time in the World Qualifiers and World Group I playoffs.

The 12 winning nations from the World Group II playoffs will compete in the World Group II ties in September along with the losing nations from World Group I.

Losing nations in World Group II, meanwhile, will compete in the Regional Group III in June/July or September.

Other World Group II playoff matchups are Latvia vs Egypt, Paraguay vs Sri Lanka, Morocco vs Vietnam, Indonesia vs Kenya, Guatema vs Tunisia, Costa Rica vs Bulgaria, Poland vs Hong Kong, Zimbabwe vs Syria, Denmark vs Puerto Rico, El Salvador vs Jamaica, and Georgia vs Estonia.

While the team composition is being finalized, Filipino Cuppers have been training regularly at the PCA claycourt.

Members of the PH  training pool are Jeson Patrombon, AJ Lim and Francis Casey Alcantara.

US-based PH Cuppers Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales have also expressed their interest to join the squad.

The PH team is coming off a 3-1 loss to Thailand in the first round of Group II under the previous format last year.