HOPEFUL. Filipino Francis Casey Alcantara (left) returns a shot as Indonesian Christopher Rungkat looks on during their final match against Chung Yunseong of South Korea and Ajeet Rai of Australia in the Bangkok Open 3 in Thailand on Sept. 11, 2022. They lost, 1-6, 6-7 (6). (Contributed photo)

MANILA – Francis Casey Alcantara from the Philippines hopes to break into the world's Top 300 by end of the year.

The 30-year-old player from Cagayan de Oro City climbed to No. 329 in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings following two runner-up finishes in the three-leg Bangkok Open.

"I was very happy with my performance despite losing in the finals both weeks. I improved my ranking, so it's always good," the 5-foot-7 Alcantara said in an interview on Tuesday.

He arrived on Sunday after joining the ATP Challenger Tour at the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand in Nonthaburi City.

Alcantara teamed up with Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia in the two events, both offering total cash prizes worth USD50,000.

They lost to No. 3 seeds Benjamin Lock of Zimbabwe and Yuta Shimizu of Japan, 1-6, 3-6, in the second leg and were also unsuccessful in the third leg, falling to Chung Yunseong of South Korea and Ajeet Rai of Australia, 1-6, 6-7 (6) in the final.

"The losses made me realize that I still have lots of things I need to improve on," said Alcantara, a silver medalist in men's doubles at the 2021 Vietnam SEA Games. He became a member of the Philippine Davis Cup team in 2005.

Alcantara first played with Rungkat at the 2016 ITF Futures 2, a USD10,000 event in Hong Kong. They reached the semifinal round but bowed to Markus Kerner of Estonia and Mikelis Libletis of Latvia, 3-6, 6-1, 7-10.

The 32-year-old Indonesian is currently world No. 219. He has joined 10 tournaments this year, including the Australian Open where he and Fil-Am Treat Huey reached the round-of-32. He paired up with Fil-Am Ruben Gonzales in Italy and the Czech Republic.

The 5-foot-9 Rungkat, who is now based in the United States, captured the SEA Games men's singles title twice (2011, 2017). He also bagged the mixed doubles gold medal in the SEA Games (2021, 2019) and Asian Games (2018).

Before heading to Thailand, Alcantara competed in two USD15,000 events in Jakarta with Yuki Mochizuka of Japan as his partner. They reached the semifinal in the first leg and the quarterfinal in the second leg.

"The target is Top 300. I have 10 more tournaments lined up before the year ends and hopefully I can achieve my goal," said Alcantara, who has a career-best ranking of No. 257 in December 2018. He lifted the Manila SEA Games doubles title with Jeson Patrombon the following year.

Last June, Alcantara and Vietnam's No. 1 player and SEAG singles gold medalist Nam Hoang Ly clinched the Hai Dang Cup Week 2 title in Tay Ninh City, Vietnam. They beat Ji Hoon Son and Ulsung Park of South Korea, 6-3, 6-1, in the final.

In May, Alcantara secured the doubles plum with Colin Sinclair of Northern Mariana Island at the ITF World Tennis Tour event in Cairo, Egypt.

Alcantara is the first Filipino junior Grand Slam champion, achieving the feat when he won the Australian Open doubles title with Cheng-Peng Hsieh of Chinese Taipei in 2009, the same year he reached his highest ranking of world No. 14. (PNA)