By Jean Malanum

DOUBLES CHAMPIONS. Eric Jed Olivarez (right) and Nilo Ledama hold their trophies during the awarding ceremony of the Rep. Edwin Olivarez Cup in Sucat, Parañaque City on December 10, 2023. Olivarez also won the singles title. (Contributed photo)

MANILA – Tennis player Eric Jed Olivarez has his mind set on winning every tournament he joins, following last Sunday’s victory in the men’s singles and doubles categories at the Rep. Edwin Olivarez Cup in Sucat, Parañaque City.

The tournament top seed outclassed No. 4 Fritz Cris Verdad, 6-2, 6-0, to claim his third singles titles, and teamed up with Nilo Ledama in the doubles, beating No. 7 seeds Verdad and Rolly John Saga, 6-3, 4-6, 10-5.

“This year has been my best year in terms of my results here locally in the men’s Open tournaments,” said the 25-year-old champion in an interview on Thursday.

“I’m very proud of my performance and achievements this year. I hope I can bring it with me next year as I plan to travel and play more international men’s tournaments,” added Olivarez, who graduated with a degree in accountancy (magna cum laude) at the Western Michigan University.

Last week’s title showdown with Verdad was a repeat of their final clash at the Metro Iloilo Tennis Federation (MITF) Open in Iloilo City on November 20, with Olivarez prevailing, 6-3, 6-4.

Playing at the Olivarez Sports Center indoor clay courts he calls home only served to be more inspired, he said.

“I played a lot better this time at the Olivarez Cup against Verdad. My forehands played the biggest part in my win. I think I was more inspired to win at the Olivarez Cup because it is my home court where I grew up playing tennis. Also, my family was here this time to support and watch me play,” said Olivarez, a semifinalist in men’s singles and runner-up in men’s doubles at the 2019 PCA Open.

He rallied past Joshua Kinaadman, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, to win the Cong. Edward Hagedorn Open in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan last August. He ousted 10-time PCA Open champion Johnny Arcilla in the semifinal, 6-3, 6-3.

Olivarez secured two more doubles title with Kinaadman. They prevailed over Alberto Lim Jr. and Lance Fernandez, 6-3, 6-3, at the Araw ng Davao Occidental National Open in Malita (October) and outplayed Elbert Anasta and Noel Damian, 6-7, 6-3, 10-5, at the MITF Open.

Based on the Palawan Pawnshop National Tennis Championships rankings as of November 28, Olivarez is at No. 1 in the men’s singles with 2775 points followed by Jose Maria Pague (2550), Arcilla (2475), Anasta (1725), Kinaadman (1500), Lim (1240), Alexis Acabo (1165), Ledama (945), Verdad (900) and Eric Jay Tangub (830).

In the doubles, he is No. 2 with 1500 points behind Arcilla (1575 points). Ledama is third with 1012.5 points followed by Kinaadman (975), Pague and Anasta (937.5), Tangub (787.5), Jude Ceniza (675), and Bryan Saarenas and Dave Sebastian Mosqueda (525).

Meanwhile, Olivarez will try to keep his winning form at the Dagitab Festival National Open slated Dec. 15-22 at the Naga City indoor clay courts in Cebu.

He only made it to the quarterfinal round last year but won the doubles with Kinaadman, beating Anasta and Arcilla, 6-7, 6-1, 10-7.

Arcilla bagged the singles title after pulling off a 7-5, 6-3 win over Jan Godfrey Seno. (PNA)