Davao’s Velez reaches semis in Malaysia tilt

INTENSE. Davao City’s David John Velez, a former standout pf Precious International Academy and now with Colegio de San Juan de Letran, hits a backhand during his match in the boys’ singles quarterfinals in the 13th Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) 14-Under Series in Sarawak, Malaysia on Friday. (Unified Tennis Philippines photo)

John David Velez won his quarterfinal match against Hong Kong’s Lai Ching Chung to reach the boys’ singles semifinal round in the 13th Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) 14-Under Series in Sarawak, Malaysia on Friday.

The Davao City-born Velez, a Grade 8 student at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL), pulled off a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Chung to arrange a semifinal showdown with Malaysian Lin En Tan.

Tan, the tournament top seed, advanced after eliminating Filipino Brent Signmond Cortes, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, in the quarterfinals.

Also gaining semifinal berths were second seed Filipino Rupert OhrelleTortal and third seed Malaysian Muhammad ZhahinLelyasKamarul Zaman.

Tortal, a Grade 8 student at the Surigao City National High School, stamped his class over fifth seed Malaysian Ryan Lai Eng Lim, 6-3, 6-1.

Zaman, on the other hand, survived Filipino Rainier Angelo Selmar, 7-6 (7), 6-1, in their quarterfinal match.

Meanwhile, the Filipinos will face each other in the boys’ doubles final.

Velez and Selmar rallied past Hong Kong’s Ho Wan Li and Lai Ching Chung, 6-4, 5-7, 10-8, while Tortal and Cortes stunned the third-seeded Singaporean pair of Luke Koh and Maximus Wong, 6-4, 6-2.

In the girls’ singles category, Negros Occidental pride Alexa Joy Milliam secured her seat in the Final Four after demolishing Malaysian Anastasia Kai Xuan Wong, 6-0, 6-0.

The 13-year-old Milliam, a Grade 8 student at CSJL, will be up against third seed Malaysian Sze Xuan Lim, who won over her compatriot, seventh seed TngEn Lydia Liong, 6-0, 6-2.

The other semifinal match will feature second pick Malaysian Lim LimZan Ning against fourth seed Thai Pimmada Lim.

Lim LimZan Ning clobbered eighth-ranked Ching Laam Lai of Hong Kong, 6-2, 6-0, while Pimmada Lim outplayed sixth-seeded Malaysian Hui Yii Soo, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.

In the girls’ doubles category, the unseeded pair of Milliam and Filipino-Singaporean Tamryn Brown defeated the fourth-seeded tandem of Ching Laam Lai and TngEn Lydia Liong, 7-5, 6-2, to advance to the championship round.

Milliam and Brown will face No. 3 Malaysians Lim LimZan Ning and Brittany Jing Yu Michael Tiang, who ousted top seeds Pimmada Lim and Sze Xuan Lim, 6-4, 7-5.

“Johndy played solid against his scrappy opponent from Hong Kong. He was aggressive the whole time and moved his opponent from side to side. Rupert was very consistent and his opponent was erratic and giving away points,” said coach Roland Kraut in an online interview on Saturday morning before the start of the semifinal matches at the Sarawak Lawn Tennis Centre in Kuching City.

“Rainier lost to a steady Malaysian who was running after all his shots. He lost 7-9 in the tie-breaker in the first set and lost steam after,” he added.

“Brent had a heartbreaking loss to the No. 1 seed. It was a very high quality match and he had a few chances but couldn’t convert,” Kraut said.

“So, it is Filipino vs. Malaysian in both semifinals in the boys’ singles, and All-Filipino in the boys’ doubles, I’m happy with that,” said Kraut, who also coaches the multi-titled De La Salle University team in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).

“I am hoping Johndy can avenge Brent’s loss to the No. 1 seed. And hoping to Rupert finds a way to grind out a win so that it will be an All-Filipino boys singles finals,” said Kraut.

Velez, Milliam, Cortes and Selmar are first-timers in the ATF Circuit. Velez and Milliam are trained by the Macs Crankit Tennis Academy. The team is funded by Unified Tennis Philippines. (PNA)