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PPS-PEPP: NU rules National College Tennis Team tourney

National University primed up for the UAAP wars by sweeping the National College Tennis Team Championships, edging University of the Philippines in the men’s final, 3-2, and trouncing Ateneo, 3-1, for the women’s crown at the PCA outdoor courts in Paco, Manila last Friday.

Vince Tugade delivered in the clutch, dominating Zire Mina, 4-1, 4-1, in the deciding singles after UP’s Walther Luzon and Rafael Liangco repelled NU’s Ibarra Ortega and Jules Lazaro, 4-2, 4-2, to sweep the doubles and force a 2-2 count in the best-of-five tie.

But the Bulldogs stamped their class in individual play as skipper Jude Ceniza turned back Loucas Fernandez, 4-1, 5-3, in the first singles and Aljon Talatayod routed Janus Ringia, 4-1, 4-1, after the pair of Jonas Silva and Karl Miguel outlasted Feb Deja and Rucell Cero, 4-2, 3-5, 10-2.

The victory was a big shot in the arm for the Bulldogs, who placed third here last year and reached the semis in the PCA Open Inter-Collegiate.

“We did not lose hope. As what coach Bobby (Esquivel) told us, whatever the result, as long as we give our best,” said Ceniza.

But the Lady Bulldogs banked on a strong start to get past the Lady Eagles, winning the first two matches on Elizabeth Abarquez’s 4-0, 4-0 romp over Francesca Cruz in singles and Danna Abad and Rovie Baulete’s tough 1-4, 5-4(5), 10-8 victory over Melanie Dizon and Mariam Garsin in the doubles.

Althea Ong kept Ateneo in the hunt with a 4-1, 4-1 win over Jan Anghag in the second singles but Allyssa Bornia and Alliah Ragunton smothered siblings Gabby and Nina Sandejas, 4-0, 4-1, in the other doubles to wrap up the tie.

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“We joined this tournament for exposure. We have to be competitive to defend our (UAAP) title,” said Bornia, who will spearhead NU’s crack at a sixth straight UAAP crown in three weeks’ time.

The 23-year-old Bornia captured last year’s PCA Open and teamed up with Shaira Rivera to nail the doubles trophy in the inaugural Rina Cañiza Women’s Open recently.

UST’s Nilo Ledama, meanwhile, foiled Tugade’s bid for a sweep, scoring a 4-0, 5-3, in the men’s singles individual final while La Salle’s Mikaela Vicencio also foiled NU’s Abarquez, 5-4(3), 4-1, for the women’s singles diadem.

Richard Butista and Ericjay Tangub, also of UST, repulsed UE’s Stephen Guia and Marc Suson, 4-2, 5-4(3), while Ateneo’s Ong and Tracy Llamas ripped UP’s Bianca Pica and Dana Regala, 4-1, 4-1, to split the doubles titles of the event which served as part of the Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala tennis program, led by president/CEO Bobby Castro.

Meanwhile, action shifts to San Pablo City, Laguna for the Escudero Cup Men’s Open Championship beginning on Monday with the juniors tournament set Feb. 23-28 at the Aera Tennis Club courts. For details, contact tournament organizer Bobby Mangunay at 0915-4046464.

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