Overcoming the searing heat of the Colegio San Agustin in Bulacan, the Women’s Tennis Team of National University accomplished a Cinderella run.
Leaning on Jzash Canja and Annie Tumanda, the Lady Bulldogs turned down top-seeded De La Salle University Lady Tennisters, 3-1, to snag their fifth championship after a year of hiatus, Tuesday afternoon.
The doubles pair defeated La Salle’s Jenni Dizon and Kiezl Diaz, 6-2, 6-2, to close out the series in the fourth match. It took the National U duo four match points in the eighth game of the second set to finally fend off the La Sallians and seal their epic comeback after facing three straight do-or-die ties.
The Lady Archers took the lead after Angel Santiago swept Zan Dumlao in two sets in the opening singles
The Bustillos-based squad then leveled the tie after taking the first doubles with rookies Allysa Bornia and Alliah Ragunton. The two newbies shook off nerves and edged out Green and White senior Jed Aquino and partner Arianne Nillasca, 6-3, 6-4.
Eventual Most Valuable Player Clarice Patrimonio then bagged the pivotal second singles match to put the Bulldogs on the hill in a two-set conquest of Aubrey Calma. After being threatened in the first tie against Akiko De Guzman, the three-time UAAP top player demolished the La Salle rookie this time, 6-1, 6-3.
The Lady Bulldog did not have a dream start after being down 0-2 in the standings after the season’s first weekend. “Actually, until now, I can’t fully explain how we did it,” head coach Karl Santamaria admitted.
“But when we were down 0-2, I just told them, we just haven’t found the right combinations with our team.”
However, 10 ties after, the Lady Bulldogs just fulfilled the impossible, prompting the seasoned mentor to say, “I have been part of so many championship teams. I have been fortunate with a lot, but I think this is one of my top moments in my coaching career.
“Down and out, so I credit my girls for believing and fighting. What a way to send off the last remnants of the four-peat championship team (Canja and Patrimonio),” Santamaria ended.
This is the Bulldogs’ first title in the second semester after taking four titles in the first half with women’s basketball, men’s badminton, and the double crown in taekwondo.