One more to another season sweep.
Defending champions National University (NU) stamped their class in a dominating win against the University of Santo Tomas (UST), 5-0, to sweep the eliminations hereby clinching a virtual Game 1 of the championship series on Sunday, at Olivarez College Tennis Center in Parañaque City.
Going into the match, both teams made adjustments to their respective lineups. Usual third singles player Dheo Talatayod, who started it out for the Bulldogs this time, won against third-year Thomasian Francisco Santos in straight sets, 6-3 6-3. Santos made Talatayod work by keeping in step with the NU stalwart as he countered the latter’s service game. The NU veteran, however, stood his ground with successful ground strokes to win the match for the team.
At the middle court, the powerhouse tandem of Michael Madrid and Jigo Peña continued their winning streak by demolishing Joel Cabusas and Francis Patino also in just two sets, 6-1 6-2. The former Rookie of the Year (ROY) Cabusas along with his partner were unable to withstand the excellent serving and net play of the champions, as the Bulldogs breezed their way to yet another victory.
ROY candidate Francis Lanzado of UST stretched the reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP) Fritz Verdad in the following singles match. Lanzado played well while pouncing on early miscues by Verdad. The Bulldog mustered every possible weapon he had to keep the game close as he took the first set in a grueling tiebreak that lasted for 18 points, 7-6 (8).
In the second doubles match, John Accion and Francis Alcantara waylaid brothers Lou and Bernan Bering in a tight 6-4 6-4 win. Both teams stood their ground with their own service game, but it was the pair from NU who got the vital break of serve en route to winning the respective sets, the match, and ultimately, the tie.
UAAP Season 74 ROY and Season 75 MVP Leander Lazaro continued to show his brilliant form in a 6-0 6-2 thrashing of UST’s Hakeem Cariga. The Bulldog ace player was able to control the pace of the match from the get-go as he limited the latter to just two won games on the Thomasian’s own service game.
Trying to take one for UST, Lanzado took the second set for the Growling Tigers, 6-3, as he continued to answer every shot of a visibly frustrated Verdad. Although, the NU champion was not to be denied of the victory, as Verdad drew from experience and dominated the budding tennis star in the deciding set, 6-0, and ended the eliminations in style for the Bulldogs.
The Finals will formally start on Saturday, February 21, at the same venue. If the NU Bulldogs win, they will get their third straight title in yet another sweep and will push their winning streak to 33. A victory for UST will force a playoff for the championship the next day, February 22.