PH tennis turns to youngsters for SEA Games


After falling short of its Asian Games goals, tennis officials yesterday said the national teams will now be built around youngsters like Katharina Lehnert and Francis Casey Alcantara.

Lehnert, the Fil-German who debuted in the Incheon Games, has what it takes to lead the new women’s team, according to Philippine Tennis Association vice president Randy Villanueva.

Though she failed to snag a medal, the 20-year-old Lehnert was “a revelation” during her matches after putting up a gallant stand against older opponents, said Villanueva.

Lehnert, ranked No. 653 in the world from as high as No. 389 last year, should be ready for the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore next year, officials said.

“I think we should just keep on developing new players in the juniors and concentrate on the coming SEA Games as early as now,” said Villanueva.

Among the top candidates for the team are United States-based Alcantara, Jeson Patrombon and rising talents Marian Capadocia and Khim Iglupas.

“We’ll make sure they will be ready and fit for the SEA Games by giving them international exposure,” added Villanueva. “We have the talent pool.”

Still, the PH squad will be led by Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales, with veterans Patrick Tierro and Johnny Arcilla acting as “the bridge between the current and the new players.”

Villanueva admitted they were expecting at least a medal in Incheon.

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