Last year’s second runners-up, University of the East Red Warriors, capped off another Cinderella season with a 3-2 victory over their previous season’s tormentors, University of Santo Tomas Tiger Netters, as the eliminations drew to a close, Wednesday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
However, it hadn’t been the start UE wanted as they dropped their first match of the day. UST rookie Dave Mosqueda did well to nose out Jeleardo Amazona in the first set at 6-4. The UE veteran persevered in the following set and led early, before Mosqueda forced a tiebreak. Amazona slipped at the first rally of the tiebreak, and suffered a cut on his elbow. That shook off the Warrior as he succumbed to errors, conceding the set and the match to the Tiger.
That turned out to be UST’s last stand before UE secured the tie in the next three matches. Last year’s Rookie of the Year Josshua Kinaadman started off the second singles match on a rampage with a 6-3 victory over another Thomasian newbie Christian Lopez. UST then regrouped and fought toe-to-toe with UE in the following set to ultimately force a decider, 7-6. Kinaadman woke up from his slumber and resumed his gritty form and dominated Lopez in the final set, 6-1.
Similarly, Rolly Saga and Rogelio Estaño recovered from a second-frame setback in the first doubles match to double the lead for UE. The Warriors pair and their opponents, Joel Cabusas and Bernlu Bering, battled hard in the opening frame until the former clinched a break of serve at the tail end to finally get the set, 7-5. It was the opposite in the following set, as the solitary break advantage went in UST’s favor with similar score line. The Thomasians ran out of gas in the final frame, however, as Saga and Estaño closed out the match at an easier 6-2 set.
At the other side of the Center, the other UE veteran Rodolfo Barquin sealed UST sophomore Nico Lanzado’s underwhelming second season. Barquin defeated Lanzado in straight sets, 6-3 6-2. The Warrior allowed Lanzado only service holds, while consolidating his own service breaks to walk away with the match. Moreover, the veteran had clinched another bronze trophy for him and his team.
With nothing to lose, the Tigers finished their season with another doubles victory courtesy of veteran Francis Patiño and rookie Mart Cabahug over the tandem of Paulo Baran and Jeric delos Santos. The event hosts built the momentum in the opening-frame win and carried it into the second set as they successfully upended UE in straight sets, 7-5 6-3.
UE clinched the third-place trophy despite ending up with a similar 5-5 win-loss record with the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Netters. The Warriors plucked the award due to the tiebreaking criterion of sets won, 61 sets against Ateneo’s 59. On their part, UST finished at 3-7, which is good for fifth place.