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Returnees fuel Maroons to opening win over Warriors

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Key players from the UAAP Season 76 finalists galvanized the University of the Philippines men’s tennis squad to win their season opener, 4-1, against the University of the East, Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.

Junior Joshua Cano and senior Gabby Gutierrez snared their matches to lead the Maroons. Cano clinched the tie in favor of the Diliman-based netters after disposing Rodolfo Barquin Jr. in straight sets in the third singles match, 6-2, 6-4. The junior ace unleashed powerful forehand winners that caught Barquin by surprise. UE were able to stay in the game when Cano experienced problems with his serve. Nonetheless, the latter closed out the match after breaking the former’s serve.

Gutierrez and his partner, senior GBoy Mariano, outlasted Paulo Baran and Jeric Delos Santos in three sets, 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, in the second doubles match. The tall Gutierrez had a great service game at the start of the outing, but the Warriors eventually got to finish the points on receive. Baran and Delos Reyes got their bearings in the second set to level the match. Nonetheless, Mariano and Gutierrez won the match after finishing off the long rallies.

Earlier, highly-touted rookie Vince Salas had overcome a jittery start to secure his first UAAP win after nosing out UE veteran Rogelio Estaño, 7-6, 6-3, in the first singles match. Officiating was questionable at the start of the match and this disrupted the play of both players, most especially the newcomer’s. Estaño stood toe-to-toe against Salas until the latter dictated the pace of the match and clinched it.

Maroons veteran Gelo Esguerra turned back a first-set blanking and swept the final two sets, 0-6, 6-3, 6-4, against last year’s top rookie Joshua Kinaadman in the second singles match. After Kinaadman established his will in the first set, Esguerra finally unloaded his forehand and backhand winners to complete the comeback.

Rolly Saga and Jealeardo Amazona prevented a shutout against the Warriors after winning over Joshua Miranda and another returnee, Kyle Joseph, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the other doubles match. UE controlled the net in the final two sets to frustrate the Maroons duo.

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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