Huey loses steam in Davis Cup tie
LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines – Fil-Ams Ruben Gonzales and Treat Conrad Huey came through with contrasting results in the reverse singles matches as the Phl bowed to New Zealand in a tense, marathon, rain-delayed 3-2 decision of their Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group II promotional tie at the Plantation Bay Resorts and Spa here Monday dawn.
Down 1-2 in the tie and needing a win to stay alive, Gonzales responded as he came back from 3-5 down in the fourth set and showed nerves of steel in the deciding fifth to escape with a dramatic, come-from-behind 7-6 (2), 4-6, 1-6, 7-5, 8-6 victory over higher-ranked Jose Statham to forge the rubber-match.
Huey, last-minute replacement to Johnny Arcilla, appeared headed to completing the host country’s fight back from 0-2 down when impressively seized the first two set but lost steam in the end as he dropped a heart-breaking 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 defeat to Michael Venus that sealed the Filipinos’ doom.
The Kiwis, who swept the first singles matches Friday on wins by Venus over Gonzales, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0, and Statham over Arcilla, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, will thus move up to Group I next year.
The Filipinos, who seized the doubles triumph thanks to Huey and Francis Casey Alcantara’s 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 bashing of Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell Saturday night, in contrast, got stranded in Group II and will have to wait another year for a chance to regain their old place as in two years back.
“We fought to the end,” said Phl’s non-playing team captain Roland Kraut.
The final day had all the markings of a classic as both matches ended up in marathon five-setters lasting around 10 hours including a two-hour lull in the middle of the fourth set of the Gonzales-Statham duel due to downpour.
And there were some sideshows too as Philta vice president and Phl Davis Cup team administrator Randy Villanueva were challenged to separate fights by New Zealand non-playing skipper Allistair Hunt, their bald physical therapist and Sitak.
It was with Hunt that the commotion escalated as he and Villanueva got into a shoving and shouting match right after Gonzales defeated Statham before people intervened to prevent the incident from getting worse.
It actually started when Statham intentionally hit one of the linesman with the ball in frustration that triggered jeers and a shouting match first between Villanueva and the therapist, then Sitak and then Hunt.
The day before, members of the team reported one of the Kiwis threw the ball at them after the game that the Filipinos let it pass.
Villanueva, who flew to Malaysia Sunday, apologized for the incident.
After the commotion, organizers had put on ropes and cordoned the area where the players and officials are positioned while putting uniformed policemen and venue security men around the area to prevent another untoward incident from happening.