By Jean Malanum

TOP FINISHERS. Alexa Joy Milliam (third from left) rules the singles event of the Rina Cañiza Women’s Open Tennis Championships at the Philippine Columbian Association outdoor courts in Paco, Manila on Saturday (Feb. 11, 2023). Also in photo are (from left) doubles champions Allyssa Mae Bornia and Shaira Hope Rivera, former national player Rina Cañiza, singles runner-up Tennielle Madis and doubles runners-up Maria Hannah Divinagracia and Joanna Tao Yee Tan. (PNA photo by Jean Malanum)

MANILA – Top seed Alexa Joy Milliam lived up to her billing and claimed victory in the Rina Cañiza Women’s Open Tennis Championships at the Philippine Columbian Association (PCA) outdoor courts in Paco, Manila on Saturday.

The 17-year-old netter from La Carlota City, Negros Occidental province banked on a steady baseline game to conquer unseeded Tennielle Madis of M’lang town, North Cotabato province, 6-3, 6-3.

“I did not expect to win. My mindset is that, win or lose, as long as I gave my 100 percent, I am okay with the result,” said the 5-foot-7 Milliam after winning her first Open title and pocketing the P50,000 champion’s purse.

“She (Madis) played well, but today, I played better.” said Milliam, who avenged her 3-6, 3-6 setback to her victim at an U-18 tournament in Iloilo last year.

An 11th grader at AMA Computer College in Bacolod City, Milliam won four U-18 titles last year but lost in the 2022 PCA Open semifinal to national player Marian Capadocia, 2-6, 2-6.

In 2019, Milliam and teammates Jenaila Rose Prulla and Alexandra Eala won the World Junior Tennis Championships Asia-Oceania Final Qualifying tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

While Milliam sailed smoothly to the final, Madis had to hurdle second seed Alexei Xira Santos (6-3, 6-3), Maria Hannah Divinagracia (6-0, 6-2), 2015 and 2017 Palarong Pambansa gold medalist Rachel Patricia Velez, 7-6 (2), 4-0 (ret.) and No. 14 Nichole De la Rita (6-2, 6-2).

“I am glad to be in the final of my first Open. Even if I lost, I am still happy because I learned a lot from the experience,” said the 15-year-old Madis, who is being trained by national coach Tom Falcis.

Madis had a successful campaign in Malaysia last December, bagging the singles and doubles titles at the 37th RGB Penang Open Age Group Tennis Championships and the Perlis leg of the Milo International Junior Tennis Championships.

Meanwhile, top seeds Shaira Hope Rivera and Allyssa Mae Bornia defeated Maria Divinagracia and Joanna Tao Yee Tan, 6-0, 6-4, to win the doubles title.

It was the second title for the pair after the 2022 PCA Open. They will share the P50,000 top prize.

“We’re happy we were able to pull through,” said the 23-year-old Bornia, a member of five-time University Athletic Association of the Philippines champion National University. (PNA)