MANILA -- Arthur Craig Pantino has remained on track for a second straight title after reaching the singles semifinal at the China Junior 8 tournament in Beijing on Friday.
The 18-year-old player from Ormoc City in Leyte province prevailed after his opponent, fifth seed Wai Yu Kai of Hong Kong, retired in the second set of their quarterfinal match at the Potter's Wheel International Center. The score was 6-1, 1-0 (ret.) in favor of the top-seeded Pantino.
Meanwhile, top seeds Pantino and Ryuhei Azuma of Japan survived fourth seeds Qian Sun and Baoluo Zheng of China, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) to arrange a championship showdown with second seeds Romain Faucon of Belgium and Kasidit Samrej of Thailand.
Faucon and Samrej advanced after pulling off a 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory over unranked pair Jin Gu and Boyao Huang of China in their Final Four match.
Before going to China, Pantino won the singles title at the 3rd KL International Junior Championship that was held in Malaysia on April 16-21.
Seeded second in the tournament, Pantino outplayed fourth pick Dev Javia of India, 6-4, 6-3, in their title duel at the National Tennis Centre outdoor hard court.
Pantino is currently No. 87 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) world juniors rankings after earning a total of 457.5 points (combined singles and doubles).
Aside from the title win in Malaysia, Pantino's singles performances in India (runner-up), Chinese Taipei (semifinal) and China (quarterfinal) helped improve his rankings. His six best results in the doubles include a runner-up finish in India (J2), semifinal stints in China (J12) and India, and reaching the quarterfinal round in Japan (Grade A) and China (J14).
In January 2018, Pantino joined the Hong Kong International Tennis Federation (ITF) Juniors Championships where he won the doubles title with Thailand's Kasidit Samrej.
Pantino won his first ITF Juniors title in November 2017, beating compatriot John Bryan Otico in the final of the Phinma-PSC International Juniors 2 at the Manila Polo Club indoor clay court in Makati City.
Pantino also won back-to-back doubles titles in the two-leg tournament organized by the Philippine Tennis Association. He won the second leg title with Otico while he teamed up with Michael Francis Eala in the first leg.
Pantino teamed up with Beibit Zhukayev of Kazakhstan to win the 1st ITF Perlis Junior Championships in Malaysia in October 2017. (PNA)