Tennis: Iggy Pantino, Marian Capadocia conquer 1st Metro Manila Open

Rosy Mina

Posted at May 30 2023 12:41 PM

Marian Capadocia and Iggy Pantino hoist their trophies at the 1st Metro Manila Open awarding ceremony. PCA Open on Facebook
Marian Capadocia and Iggy Pantino hoist their trophies at the 1st Metro Manila Open awarding ceremony. PCA Open on Facebook

MANILA – Arthur Craig “Iggy” Pantino and Marian Jade Capadocia emerged as the singles champions of the inaugural Metro Manila Open at the Philippine Columbian Association (PCA) Complex in Paco, Manila.

No. 10 seed Pantino secured an exhausting 5-7, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory on Sunday over John Bryan Otico, his partner in the men’s doubles event which they won on Saturday.

“Sobrang up and down. We really didn’t know who’s gonna win. It lasted for four hours and maybe it’s just a matter of getting the important points,” the 22-year-old Pantino told ABS-CBN News. 

At two sets apiece, Pantino got the early break for a 2-0 lead. Otico, 23, was able to catch up until the competition leveled at 5-5. 

Pantino won a crucial break point to serve for the match at 6-5, and he converted his second match point to conclude the slugfest at 7-5 after Otico netted a forehand on the PCA Center Court.

“I’m happy but at the same time it’s kinda sad because I played with my teammate. If only there could be two winners in tennis, I would share the trophy with him,” added the five-time International Tennis Federation (ITF) Juniors champion in both singles and doubles.

Pantino and Otico were elite players at the Philippine Tennis Academy (PTA), champions of the 2017 PHINMA-PSC junior doubles event, and teammates at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.

When asked about the PTA, Pantino said that the non-profit organization has changed his and Otico’s life, guiding them in their tennis, education, and character formation.

“Because of PTA, I got into a really good university in the U.S. with a full scholarship. So that’s really a big help for me and my family,” added Pantino, who received the top prize of PHP 300,000.

Otico, the 2017 PCA Open winner with four ITF Juniors singles titles and six doubles championships, took home the runner-up prize worth PHP 150,000.

On the women’s side, No. 1 seed and seven-time PCA Open champion Capadocia returned to the winner’s circle with a 7-6(6), 6-0 triumph over second seed Alexa Joy Milliam.

“I’m happy because I prepared better than last year,” remarked the 27-year-old, pertaining to her runner-up finish in the 2022 PCA Open.

The 2018 ITF Manama women’s doubles titlist admitted to just returning the ball in the first set while trying to read the game of her 17-year-old opponent who is the 2023 Rina Cañiza Women’s Tennis Open winner.

Capadocia wrote off a 1-4 deficit, and broke serve to level at 5-5 as Milliam was serving for the set. 

In the tiebreak, Capadocia trailed at 0-3 and 4-6. She saved two set points via a forehand down-the-line service return and a backhand crosscourt winner, then clinched the first set, 7-6(6) after Milliam hit a long forehand.

“Sobrang tough ng first set namin,” commented Capadocia. “Sa second set, alam ko na kung paano gagawin so mas naging okay ‘yung game ko.”

She dominated the second set, 6-0, but had to overcome deuce before serving out the match.

Capadocia, a two-time ITF Juniors singles champion with one doubles title, received PHP 150,000 while Milliam took home PHP 75,000.

As for her experience in the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia, Capadocia shared that it has inspired her to do better in competitions. 

“Doon ko na-realize na may ibubuga pa pala ako sa international,” she said of her 6-7, 3-6 loss to then WTA World No. 273 Priska Madelyn Nugroho of Indonesia in the women’s team quarterfinals.

“Sobrang dikit ng score namin,” she continued. “Sobrang galing niya, actually... So parang gusto ko patunayan dito na mas magiging okay pa ‘yung game ko.”

She lost to Lanlana Tararudee of Thailand, 6-7, 6-7, in the singles first round, then posted a mixed doubles quarterfinal finish in three sets with SEA Games men’s doubles gold medalist Francis Casey Alcantara.

After reaching success at the Metro Manila Open, the Billie Jean King Cup player aims to compete on the ITF circuit in the United States.

The 1st Metro Manila Open by PCA, sanctioned by the Philippine Tennis Association, offered free admission to the public from May 1 to 28.

It had a total prize money of PHP 1.8 million, and other recipients of major prizes were Otico and Pantino for men’s doubles (PHP 80,000), Elizabeth Abarquez and Rovie Baulete for ladies’ doubles (PHP 50,000), and Abarquez and Rucel Cero for mixed doubles (PHP 50,000).

During the awarding ceremony that recognized the winners and runners-up of the open categories, team competitions, and age group events, Metro Manila Open chairman Jess Burahan lauded the players for their best efforts.

“I would like to congratulate all the participants for their hard work and dedication to this sport. A huge congratulations to our winners who have shown exceptional skills and sportsmanship throughout the tournament,” said the former mayor of Panglima Tahil in Sulu.
Other champions include Ateneo de Manila University for men’s inter-college, PCA-JK Tyre for men’s team tennis, and Team Amigas for ladies’ team tennis. 

Burahan then thanked the sponsors for making the 1st Metro Manila Open a success: Sulu Vice Governor Toto Tan, East-West Customs Brokerage Corp., Gimaca Realty Corp., San Jose Salt, Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra of the Municipality of Marawi, Tecnifibre, Mary Grace Foods, Inc., Mayor Cahar Ibay of the Municipality of Parang in Maguindanao, W.L. Food Products, Province of Tawi-Tawi, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, and Basilan Governor Jim Hataman-Salliman. 

The tournament was also supported by Mayor Aljun Diamante of Tuburan in Cebu, Mandaluyong City Councilor Regie Antiojo, Tuburan Coffee, Legalas Trading Corporation, Columbiana Rina Cañiza, Columbiano Benito Tan, Head, Kaizan Steel Trading, Kaiser Medical Center, and Manila Bankers Insurance Corp.


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