By Kristel Satumbaga
The Philippines will be playing against Greece for the first time in Davis Cup history following the introduction of its new format this year.
The tie, under the World Group II playoff round, will be held on March 6 to 7 at the Philippine Columbian Association claycourt in Paco, Manila.
The matchup will also be the first time in 29 years that the Filipino Cuppers will be up against a non-Asian squad since the PH team, then bannered by Felix Barrientos, faced Sweden in the 1991 World Group Qualifiers.
Under the new format, 12 home-and-away ties in World Group II playoffs will be played at the same time in the World Qualifiers and World Group I playoffs.
The 12 winning nations from the World Group II playoffs will compete in the World Group II ties in September along with the losing nations from World Group I.
Losing nations in World Group II, meanwhile, will compete in the Regional Group III in June/July or September.
Non-playing team captain Chris Cuarto is excited for his stalwarts to go up against the Greeks, who boast of world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 2019 Australian Open semifinalist.
It was not sure, though, if Tsitsipas would play this tie as the deadline until the deadline of team nominations on Feb. 25.
However, Tsitsipas saw action in last year’s Group III Europe Zone.
While the team composition is being finalized, Filipino Cuppers have been training regularly at the PCA claycourt.
Among those in the pool are Jeson Patrombon, AJ Lim and Francis Casey Alcantara.
US-based PH Cuppers Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales have also expressed their interest to join the squad.
The PH team is coming off a 3-1 loss to Thailand in the first round of Group II under the previous format last year.