In a packed Mall of Asia Arena here in Manila, it was difficult to tell who got a louder welcome on court as the Philippine Mavericks came out in full strength – home lad and player-coach Treat Huey or the genius of Serena Williams.
For their first match at home, the Mavericks closed the day’s play with a staggering 29-18 over the Royals, making it two in a row, and the first home win for their very vocal supporters.
Team captain Philippoussis won the toss and elected to serve, winning the 1st set 6-2 against Goran Ivanisevic in 24 minutes.
The men’s singles saw the towering Milos Raonic over-powered Tomas Berdych 6-4, giving the team a 2 set lead.
The mixed doubles with home star Treat Huey and Serena Williams pairing up against Nestor/Mladenovic was a delight. Plenty of cross-court backhands and straight-line passes from Huey/Williams in a set that tied 5-5, with a shoot-out that tied at 6-6. It was a sudden death that gave the Royals an edge, and win the set 6-5.
The women’s singles had everyone in rapt attention, as Ivanovic and Williams looked set for the face-off! Williams clearly in the groove after her mixed doubles match earlier on, won the set 6-3.
The men’s doubles some brilliant tennis from the French pairing of Roger-Vassellin/Gasquet. Their clever shot-making out-smarted Nestor/Berdych with a score that finished 6-3, wining it for the home team on day 1.
Williams – who delighted the Philippine crowd when she was with the Singapore Slammers in last year’s IPTL – is now carrying the colors for the Philippine Mavericks for this season, expressed that she is exited to be a part of the tournament and the team this year.
“I really enjoy the format, and that’s why I’m here again! The crowd in Manila was great last year, and more so this year, it was wonderful walking out for the home team. I really enjoyed playing the mixed doubles with Treat today, we had our chances, and it was a really close match.”
Williams and the Mavericks will suit up once again on IPTL Manila Day 2 as they face the Japan Warriors. The Mavericks now hold a 2-1 record for the entire tournament.