MANILA – John Bryan Otico and Arthur Craig “Iggy” Pantino will face off for the Metro Manila Open men’s singles crown after bagging the men’s doubles title of the inaugural tournament at the Philippine Columbian Association (PCA) Complex in Paco, Manila.
No. 4 seeds Otico and Pantino, both from the Philippine Tennis Academy (PTA) and Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Lions team, fought off fifth seeds Vicente Anasta and Noel Damian, Jr., in the men’s doubles final on Saturday, 7-5, 6-0.
The PTA alums will return to action on Sunday at the PCA Center Court after the women’s singles final scheduled at 10 a.m. between No. 1 seed and seven-time PCA Open champion Marian Capadocia and second seed Alexa Milliam, winner of the 2023 Rina Cañiza Women’s Tennis Open.
Otico, the No. 9 seed who graduated from LMU this year, reached the final after posting a hard-fought win over Damian, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, in the second semifinal on Friday.
“It feels great because after four years, it’s so nice to be back here, especially playing the finals against my teammate,” Otico told ABS-CBN News.
At the PCA Open final in 2018, defending champion Otico was outlasted by fellow Davis Cupper Jeson Patrombon in five sets.
“It’s a dream come true for our academy, and playing Center Court after four years. It’s gonna be a great match,” added Otico, who won the International Tennis Federation (ITF) PHINMA-PSC junior doubles title with Pantino in 2017.
The LMU athletic scholars have won other titles on the ITF Juniors Tour: four singles and six doubles for Otico, and five singles and five doubles for Pantino.
Tenth seed Pantino, meanwhile, fought off the persistence of Jose Maria Pague in the first semis match, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.
“It feels really good, especially because I’m playing against my teammate and my partner,” shared Pantino. “It’s an all-PTA final so that’s our goal and our dream.”
The 1st Metro Manila Open by PCA, sanctioned by the Philippine Tennis Association, has been offering free admission to the public since May 1.
It kicked off with the age group competitions, followed by the ladies’ team tennis (age category), inter-college, men’s team tennis, and qualifying rounds.
The final week is bannered by the events in men’s singles, ladies’ singles, men’s doubles, ladies’ doubles, and mixed doubles with a total prize money of PHP 1.8 million.
The winner between Otico and Pantino will receive PHP 300,000 while the runner-up will take home PHP 150,000.
Cappadocia and Milliam will be aiming to win the PHP 150,000 ladies’ singles championship prize, with the runner-up set to receive PHP 75,000.
Otico and Pantino already bagged PHP 80,000 as the men’s doubles victors, while Elizabeth Abarquez and Rovie Baulete received PHP 50,000 as the ladies’ doubles winners after causing an upset against top seeds Shaira Hope Rivera and Alyssa Mae Bornia, 6-3, 1-6, 10-3.
Abarquez then teamed up with Rucel Cero for the mixed doubles title and PHP 50,000 prize after edging out Joewyn Pascua and Stefi Aludo, 7-6(4), 2-6, 10-3.