Junior netter AJ Lim debuts in the Davis Cup with a tough task at hand when he plays the first singles match against veteran David Susanto today at the start of the Philippines-Indonesia Asia Oceania Group II tie at the Philippine Columbian Association shell-claycourt.
Lim clashes with Indonesian team’s No. 1 netter Susanto at 3 p.m. with high hopes of setting the tone for the Filipino squad in this three-day, best-of-five affair.
“I’m nervous and excited at the same time. I know that I would be up against an experienced player, but I know that I have nothing to lose. I will give everything in this match,” said the 18-year-old Lim, the country’s top junior netter.
Lim’s nomination as the PH team’s No. 2 player is a bold but smart move for team captain Karl Santamaria, whose strategy is to reserve Grand Slam regular Treat Huey and Francis Casey Alcantara in tomorrow’s 2 p.m. doubles match against Anthony Susanto and Sunu-Wahyu Trijati.
PH No. 1 Ruben Gonzales collides with Aditya Sasongko in the other singles match today, right after the Lim-Susanto duel.
“We know that doubles matches are crucial in the Davis Cup. It can swing the momentum of the tie. We just want to field the best and fresh doubles team possible,” said Santamaria.
Santamaria, however, is confident of Lim’s capability to draw the first blood for the PH team.
“He (Lim) has the confidence and the swag which is perfect for team events. Hopefully, we see his best tennis performance (today),” Santamaria said.
It would be the first time that Lim and Susanto would meet in a tournament with the 25-year-old Indon holding a big advantage with his No. 740 ITF singles ranking.
Susanto has also been playing in the Davis Cup since 2010 with four singles victories in 13 appearances.
The Indonesian team is playing without its top player Christopher Rungkat, who had a conflict of schedule with his Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tournament.
Despite Rungkat’s absence, though, Indonesian team captain Andrian Raturandang said they are still fielding the best squad in this tie. In fact, the team arrived in Manila a week before the tie to get used to the shell-claycourt.
“We know that it is a different and difficult venue to play, but we have no problem at all (during practice). For us it is a good draw,” said Raturandang.
The reverse singles start at 1 p.m. on Sunday with Gonzales facing Susanto, followed by Lim against Sasongko.