Closing it out well.
Deposed UAAP 76 runners-up University of the Philippines (UP) edged neighbours Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), 3-2, to end their season with a victory while keeping the latter winless, Sunday, February 15, at Olivarez College Tennis Center.
Maroons veteran Angelo Esguerra kept the ball rolling for UP as he swept Ateneo sophomore AJ Rivero, 6-2 6-3. The Blue Eagle was able to stay toe-to-toe against Esguerra with his powerful shots. The UP stalwart countered and answered every shot to get winners of his own. Esguerra also served well that helped him notch the first match for his team.
Leading Rookie of the Year candidate Iyo Canlas took one for the Ateneans as he beat UP captain Joshua Miranda in the other singles match in a tight 7-5 7-5 score line. It was a see-saw battle as they held their own and broke each other’s serve. The young Blue Eagle was able stand his ground against the power of the veteran and even had wonderful winners of his own.
In court 2, graduating Franklin Encarnacion and his partner GBoy Mariano of UP and the young duo of Erj Gatdula and Anton Punzalan battle it out in another close 6-4 6-4 encounter, which was won by the Maroons. The two teams were able to hold their own serve as they were able to control the pace when they do the toss. The solid play of the Maroons on the net was the crucial point as they were able to break the Atenean serve twice in the match. That solitary break in each of the sets was the only thing that separated the two.
Outgoing senior Maroons Miggy Belda partnered with rookie Elijah Arevalo in disposing the usual Ateneo tandem of Gio Bilog and Johann Exconde, 6-4 6-3. Belda played his patented game as he was able to dictate the game on his service. Exconde and Bilog countered this with excellent serving of their own. It was the rookie Arevalo who were playing his first and only match of the season who was pivotal, as the former San Beda stalwart scored some crucial points to keep UP ahead. It was a fitting end to Belda’s career as the Maroon served the last two points of the match on service winners. The win clinched in this match for UP.
Not to be outdone is Iyo’s older brother, Ino Canlas as he defeated another Maroon rookie Mikko Ringia. The older Atenean was able to control the match early on as he forced the newbie in committing mistakes. Ringia bounced back in the following set as he scored some points on winners. It was the Blue Eagle, however, who took the win in the second to make it a respectable ending to their season.
The Fighting Maroons ended their season in fourth place, a far-cry from their finish the previous year. ADMU finished the season winless but showed some promise as they were able to keep in step with some teams.