The University of the Philippines duplicated their 4-1 rout of the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Tennisters and remained solid in second place and the other Finals berth, Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
Rookie Vince Salas made short work of fellow newbie Christian Lopez in straight sets, 6-2 6-4, to get the first win for UP. Lopez broke Salas in three of the games he won throughout the match. However, it was the overall solid performance from the Maroon that clinched him the victory.
Competing in his first match of the season, UP sophomore Elijah Arevalo, along with partner GBoy Mariano, stunned the solid duo of Francis Patiño and Mart Cabahug in the first, 6-1. The Thomasians then fended off a late rally in second set, 6-4, before totally taking control of the final set and the match to level the tie at 6-2.
In the first singles court, UST second-year player Nico Lanzado finally broke his slump and produced an excellent performance against UP’s current hero, Joshua Cano. Lanzado clinched the opening frame using that lone break of serve in the final game, 7-5. Cano then found his groove and equalized to force a third and deciding set at 6-3. The UP junior threatened to seal the match at 5-3, but Lanzado had other plans and even took the 6-5 advantage. However, Cano held serve and sent the match into the tiebreak. The Tiger once more saved four match points and held one of his own; nevertheless, Cano finished off this marathon match at 9-7 in the tiebreak.
The Maroons tandem of Joshua Miranda and Kyle Joseph then sealed the tie win for their team in the second doubles match. Bernlu Bering and Joel Cabusas broke the Miranda serve in the middle of the first set to win it at 7-5. UP then turned to polishing their service and taking control of the rallies to close out UST, 6-2 6-4. The Miranda-Joseph win clinched UP’s third straight win of the second round and their sixth overall.
Veteran Gelo Esguerra finished the tie with a straight-set victory over UST rookie Dave Mosqueda. Esguerra enforced his will in the opening set at 6-3, using his service to get the points. Mosqueda made up some ground in the second set and pushed it to a tiebreak. However, the graduating Maroon again leaned on his turns with the first delivery to take the extension with a rousing 7-3 score line.
It will be a battle for the top two teams in the following day, Sunday, as the UP Fighting Maroons take on undefeated National University Bulldogs. Meanwhile, the UST Tiger Tennisters will try to sweep the De La Salle University Green Netters on the same day.