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Maroons pull off gutsy win over Tigers

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Playing like a team on a mission, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons solidified joint-second place in the standings after drubbing the University of Santo Tomas Golden Netters, 4-1, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.

A day after ties were cancelled due to inclement weather, the Maroons started off with a come-from-behind win by senior Gelo Esguerra in the first singles match. The fourth-year Physical Education major shook off an opening set loss against UST Team Captain Joel Cabusas, 2-6 6-1 6-4. Cabusas controlled the first set as errors piled by for Esguerra. In the following frames, however, the Maroon veteran went aggressively to the net and strung several points up front to go ahead. The Thomasian skipper attempted a last-ditch effort, but Esguerra’s solitary break gave him the third set and the match.

The doubles pair of Mart Cabahug and Francis Patiño stayed solid for UST and levelled the tie at a match apiece. The Golden Netters reasserted their overall court control in the concluding set, after a meltdown in the second set allowed UP Team Captain Joshua Miranda and Kyle Joseph to force the decider. Cabahug and Patiño secured the match, 7-5 5-7 6-3.

It was an entirely different story in the other doubles match. Maroon veterans Gabriel Eduardo Gutierrez and Gboy Mariano out-muscled UST rookie Christian Lopez and junior Bernlu Bering, 6-0 6-3. UP leaned on their excellent service game, allowing their opponents just one break during the entire match.

In a battle of two promising rookies, it was UP’s newbie Vince Salas who emerged victorious against the hard-hitting Dave Mosqueda. The Thomasian cruised to an early lead, using his impeccable service to his advantage, and finished the first set at tiebreak, 7-6. The two rookies exchange service holds and breaks in the following set before a crucial break of serve went Salas’ way, en route to forcing a decider, 7-5. From there, the Maroon never looked back and dominated his batchmate on the other side of net to clinch the win for UP, 6-1.

Returning player junior Joshua Cano then put the cherry on the top of this emphatic win for the Maroons. Cano was composed throughout the entire match despite the challenge of UST sophomore Nico Lanzado, 6-2 6-4.

UP Head Coach Martin Misa singled out the second-year player. “Joshua played his game. He didn’t mind the score; he was solid,” he said.

When asked about what he had told his players after that setback against Ateneo, the coach told Tiebreaker Times that he had emphasized the word “work.” Misa said, “Work is not trabaho. The work is to become who they are, kung ano yung laro nila. I wanted them to play who they are.” The former Philippine Davis Cup Captain was pleased that the Maroons had heeded his words. “As you can see, successful sila if they play the way they should play.”

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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