The two years of waiting have finally ended.
After scouring for mere moral victories, the Ateneo De Manila University Blue Netters finally had a reason to celebrate, as they pulled off a shocker against a strong University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons squad, 3-2, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
With two matches in the bag in quick succession, the Maroons threatened to wrap up their win #2. Rookie Vince Salas kept his winning streak going, defeating promising Ateneo sophomore Iyo Canlas in straight sets, 6-2 7-6. Salas carried over his newfound confidence from yesterday’s tie and frustrated the younger Canlas brother in the first frame. Iyo then managed to keep in stride with the Maroon rookie in the second set and almost sent the match into a deciding set. Nevertheless, Salas punctuated the match with a 7-1 rout in the tiebreak.
Kyle Joseph and Joshua Miranda took their first victory of the season, upending Johann Exconde and Luke Flores, 6-1 7-6. The UP tandem dictated the pace of the first set on their service games and sealed the deal with breaks of serve. Exconde and Flores, however, denied their opponents of another easy victory in the second, as both pairs used the others’ serve to their advantage. After a heated exchange of service breaks, UP emerged with the match win after the tiebreak.
The older Canlas, Ino, took one for his team to start off the comeback bid. Canlas blanked Joshua Cano, 6-2 6-4. The Atenean dominated the match right off the bat as he forced the Maroon junior into errors, while holding his ground inside the court. Even if Cano returned with more composure in the second set, he could not deny Canlas the match victory.
Erj Gatdula and AJ Rivero then levelled the tie with a win over the otherwise solid UP tandem of Gabby Gutierrez and GBoy Mariano. The Blue Netters took the momentum they had from yesterday’s heated battle against NU and used it against UP. Gatdula and Rivero executed their plan very well and pulled the rag off a so-so performing Guttierez and Mariano.
After a rookie started off the tie with a win, it was another rookie who finished it off. Fortunately for Ateneo, it was their very own prized recruit Marcen Gonzales who got the win over the veteran Gelo Esguerra. Gonzales used a mix of power and placement shots to counter the aggressive play of the UP senior. With the match and the tie on the line, Esguerra was called for a foot fault on service, ruining his game. Gonzales took advantage of the situation and knocked off the Maroon with perfect passing shot to win the series for the Blue and White.