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Lim ends long spell, nets Olivarez Cup

Alberto Lim, Jr. rounded off a brilliant week-long display of aggressive tennis as he smothered Fritz Verdad, 6-2, 6-1, in the final to secure the Olivarez Cup National Open Tennis crown in Sucat, Parañaque on Sunday.

AJ Lim (right) holds his trophy as he poses with Fritz Verdad CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

As what he had done all week, Lim went on an attack mode early and took the first three points in the first game off Verdad's serve, only to yield the next four. What ensued was a virtual duel of nerves with Lim pulling through after five deuces, including a sweep of the last three points.

But after a hold-hold-hold game, Lim, 24, broke again in the fifth and held sway the rest of the way. They traded breaks in the first three games in the second frame before Lim held in the fourth to wrest a 3-1 lead then broke Verdad twice to essay the straight-set romp worth P50,000 and UTP (Unified Tennis Philippines) and UTR (Universal Tennis) points.

More importantly, the victory served as a big morale-boost for the former multi-titled junior campaigner, whose last big win was in Malaysia three years ago where he claimed both the singles and doubles titles.

“Winning this tournament gave me the confidence and belief that I can play toe-to-toe against our top-caliber players,” said Lim, who went on a hiatus due to illness before returning to competitive play in the Brookside Open last April.

“The key was to be aggressive right away and to not give my opponent a chance to get his rhythm and momentum,” said the former University of the East spearhead. “I obviously give the credit to Fritz, who was able to stay there and make me work for every single point.”

The unranked Lim, who dropped just 12 games in six matches, including a 6-1, 6-0 win over third seed Vicente Anasta in the semis, said he didn't expect to go all the way to the championship in the event sponsored by the Olivarez family, stressing: “I was not expecting anything at all going into this competition. But I know I was ready to compete whoever it is that I'm going up against.”

Despite the setback, Verdad said he was more than satisfied with his runner-up finish he spiked with a semis victory over recent Hagedorn Open winner and No. 4 Eric Jed Olivarez while coming off a long layoff.

“This means a lot because it's a great comeback for my career. It's really a great week because this is my first tournament this year,” said Verdad, who last won (doubles) in the Cainta Open in 2019 and didn't lift a racket for seven months to finish his Coast Guard basic training.

Verdad and Rolly Saga later foiled Lim's bid for a twinkill in the tournament held as part of the PPS-PEPP circuit put up by Palawan Pawnshop president/CEO Bobby Castro, stopping him and Ben Libao, 6-7(6), 6-1, 10-6, in the men's doubles final, while Stefi Aludo and Danna Abad captured the women's tiara over Paula Uy and Joana Tan.

In junior results, John Benedict Aguilar upended top seed Vince Serna, 6-2, 6-4, in the semis then crushed Lexious Cruz, 6-2, 6-0, to pocket the boys' crown, while Aludo snared the girls' trophy with a 6-1, 6-1 rout of No. 3 Joy Ansay.

Other Legends division winners were Arvin Ruel (35-years-old singles), Aldrin Geluz (45 singles), Jerome Bernales and Bryan Saarenas (30s men's doubles), Roel Licayan and Roy Tan (40s men's doubles), Noel Lontok and Dustin de Torres (50s men's doubles) and Tracy Bautista and Arabie Agero (30s women's doubles). TMT

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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