Japanese take opening day limelight

Saki Maruyama and Erika Habaguchi of Japan

SUBIC ‒ With Filipino players watching closely, the Japanese tandem of Saki Maruyama and Erika Habaguchi took the limelight in the opening day of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Subic Bay Sand Court here.

And to the delight of the small but wildly-cheering crowd, they outlasted compatriots Ami Shirahata and Sayaka, 21-18, 22-20, to lead the march of the favorites to the main draw of the four-day tournament organized by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF).

Being the host country, the national pairs of Dij Rodriguez and Gen Eslapor, Sisi Rondina and Jovelyn Gonzaga and the promising duo of Grydelle Matibag and Khylem Progella are seeded in the 12-team main draw.

Despite the punishing mid-afternoon heat, Maruyama and Habaguchi enjoyed the warm reception from the spectators who were treated by Subic management to free entry on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the facility that played host to the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

The men’s teams – which are also facing the prospects of going through rough waters considering the toughness of the field – are comprised of Jude Garcia and Krung Arbasto, Ranran Abdilla and Jaron Requinton, and James Buytrago and Pol Salvador.

But having a Brazilian mentor, all six teams are eager to prove their worth in the event supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, PLDT Home and Rebisco and also backed by Akari, F2 Logistics, Asics, SBMA, Philippine Olympic Committee, Smart Giga Play, Cignal Play, OneSports, OneSports+, Senoh and Mikasa.

Also advancing were Darby Dunn and Olivia Grace Furlan of Canada who pulled off an 18-21, 21-18, 15-10 win over France’s Manon Rebuffel and Melody Benhamou.

In men’s side, the Japanese tandem of Ryoto Sato and Ryo Shindo made an impression with a 21-19, 23-21over Austria’s Stefan Schosswohl and Matthias Gersin, 21-19, 23-21, while Israelis Tomer Hadar and David Lanciano proved steadier than Czech’s David Lenc and Filif Habr, 22-20, 21-18.