Filipino netters suffer early exit in Florida tourney anew

Published February 26, 2021, 1:14 PM

by Jeremiah Sevilla

National tennis team standouts Francis Casey Alcantara and Ruben Gonzales still couldn’t find their groove in their second tournament as a duo this year. 

Alcantara and Gonzales bowed out of the $25,000 ASC BMW Men’s World Tennis Tour in Naples, Florida anew after losing to the Peruvian pair of Conner Huertas del Pino and Alexander Merino, 7-6 (9), 4-6, 10-7, in the second leg’s quarterfinals on Friday morning (Manila time). 

Coming off a dismal defeat in the grueling first set, the Filipino netters struck back to force a decider only to lose steam in the end. 

It was the second time that the PH duo suffered an early exit following their first round loss to Alejandro Gomez of Colombia and Israel Alexander Ore of the United States in the first leg of this COVID-stricken Futures event. 

Alcantara and Gonzales cakewalked to the quarterfinals as one of their first round opponents in Justin Butsch and Alex Rybakov of USA tested positive for COVID-19, forcing officials to cancel the match and give the Filipinos a victory via walkover. 

Regardless, it was the first triumph as partners for Alcantara and Gonzales in the ITF World Tennis Tour.  

The two previously played as a pair a few days before the lockdown in March 2020 when they crushed Markos Kalovelonis and Petros Tsitsipas of Greece in straight sets to give the host country its solitary point against the heavily-favored Greeks led by world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas in their Davis Cup World Group II tie.