PH Cuppers yield doubles to Pakistan

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 06 2014 12:34 PM | Updated as of Apr 06 2014 08:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Fil-Ams Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales ran into a more determined Aisam Qureshi and Ageel Khan of Pakistan and absorbed a stinging 7-5, 6-3, 6-2, defeat that saw its two-game lead cut to one in their Asia-Oceania Zone Group II Davis Cup tie at Phl Columbian Association’s Plaza Dilao courts in Paco, Manila yesterday.

Qureshi, who is ranked two rungs lower than Huey’s World No. 25 ranking, and Khan needed to edge the Fil-Am duo in a tense battle in the opening set to grab the momentum, zap the fight out of their foes and silence the decent weekend crowd that came hoping for a win.

“We just tried to play more aggressive and not get bothered by the crowd and conditions,” said the 34-year-old Qureshi, who and Khan were cheered on by a small but boisterous flag-waving crowd to their delight.

The Filipinos, whose participation here is being bankrolled by team manager Jean Henri Lhuillier of Cebuana Lhuillier, offered no excuses but Phl non-playing team captain Roland Kraut said after the match that Huey, 27, complained of stomach aches during the duel.

“We gave him (Huey) antacids, power bars and Gatorade but it didn’t help,” said Kraut.

The win spoiled the Phl’s bid to finish off Pakistan after seizing Friday’s opening singles on victories by PJ Tierro over Khan, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4, and Gonzales over a United States-trained Samir Iftikhar, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 to go 2-0 up.

Instead, Pakistan cut its deficit to 2-1 and will have a chance to turn things around in today’s reverse singles where it hopes Khan and Iftikhar win over Gonzales and Tierro, respectively, starting at 10 a.m.

“Of course, we’ll go for victories tomorrow (today),” said Qureshi.

Both teams will have a luxury to change players an hour before the match and it’s possible Qureshi could substitute for a raw Iftikhar against the red-hot Tierro, who is coming off a strong semifinal effort in the Olivarez Cup-Men’s Future two weeks ago.

“We’re ready for any outcome but we’ll see what happens,” said Kraut.

The Filipinos though were matching Pakistan’s agressiveness in the first set when both teams firmly fought to hold serve to end up tied, 5-all.

After serving to grab a 6-5 lead, Khan and Qureshi found an opportunity to break a suddenly uncomfortable Huey to take the 12th game and the first set.