SINGAPORE - Over the course of the tennis competition at the 2015 SEA Games, the Philippine national anthem resounded around Kallang Tennis Centre only once. Yet, the one victory in the mixed doubles by Denise Dy and Treat Huey was enough to prevent a clean sweep of the tennis gold medals by Thailand.
Having already triumphed in the men's team, men's doubles and women's singles and team finals over the past week, a Thai team in imperious form were looking to make it seven golds out of seven finals on the final day of the tennis competition on Sunday.
Yet, Filipino pair Dy and Huey put that bid to rest after the first final of the day, grinding out a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win over Thailand's Peangtarn Plipuech and Sonchat Ratiwatana to retain the title they won in 2011, when tennis was last held at the Games.
Dy, 26, who is also based in the US as assistant tennis coach for the University of Iowa, was more than happy to travel back just to fly the Filipino flag in the Games. "It feels great, fantastic to travel back just to play in front of such unbelievable support. I just tried to hold my ground and play the important points well," she said.
In the men's singles, the sole other non-Thai player left, Indonesian David Susanto, took the first set against Thai Games debutant Warit Sornbutnark, but eventually failed to take what would have been Indonesia's sole gold at this Games, losing 6-4, 3-6, 3-6.
Sornbutnark, 22, credited veteran team-mate Danai Udomchoke, the last Thai champion in this event back in 2001, as giving him the vital edge. "He (Udomchoke) really helped me improve technically before the Games, and I am especially excited to have won the gold in my first SEA Games," he said.
A lucrative day for the Thais was then capped off when Noppawan Lertcheewakarn and compatriot Varatchaya Wongteanchai paired up to beat Dy and Katharina Lehnert in the women's doubles final, winning 6-3, 6-4. Wongteanchai and Lertcheewakarn had been on opposing ends in the women's singles final just the day before, when Lertcheewakarn prevailed in a baseline slugfest 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.
Lertcheewakarn, who also has two gold medals and a silver from the 2011 edition, hailed Thailand as South-east Asia's eminent tennis force. The 23-year-old former junior Wimbledon champion said: "The advantage for us over the other countries is that we get to play a lot more matches, tournaments. So yes, we are the strongest (in tennis) in South-East Asia."