Long will the Lady Bulldogs reign.
For the third consecutive year, the National University Lady Bulldogs took home the UAAP women’s lawn tennis crown after drubbing the University of Santo Tomas Lady Tiger Tennisters in three straight matches, Saturday morning at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Courts.
In the opening match, last year’s Most Valuable Player Clarice Patrimonio faced off against Precian Rivera. She had no trouble taking the first set, 6-1, displaying her trademark combination of quick, short strides and powerful strokes to control the pace and turn the flow against her opponent’s favor. Rivera was able to force the younger of NU’s Patrimonio sisters to a couple of errors to add to her score. However, the former MVP was able to recover her composure and ride out the set for a 6-3 win.
The second doubles match featured NU’s Goldie Nagret and Zaza Paulino pitted against Thomasians Lenelyn Milo and Shymae Gitalan. The UST duo managed to win the first game, but ceded point after point afterwards – unable to find a way to force their NU counterparts into awkward positions on their side of the lawn. The duo from Jhocson Street took both sets, 6-2 and 6-2.
The final women’s match of Season 78 saw national team standout Christine Patrimonio face off against UST senior Macy Gonzales. Like her sister, Christine was able to control the flow through powerful and effective strokes that her UST counterpart struggled to counter. The older Patrimonio took four straight points, before a couple of errors in the latter games helped the netter from España add to her own tally. The Lady Bulldog eventually took the set, 6-2. The Thomasian put up another brave showing in the second set, forcing Patrimonio to a couple of errors and delaying the Nationalians’ much anticipated celebration. But the eventual MVP was able to regain her composure in time to take the set after a couple of powerful strikes against Gonzales. Amid the UST netter’s resurgent display, Patrimonio prevailed in the second set, 6-3.
“I’m very happy, especially para sa team ko. We worked hard to achieve this three-peat,” said season MVP Christine Patrimonio after closing out the match that gave her team their third straight championship.
“Hindi ko muna inisip yung 3-peat [as the tournament progressed]. I just played and focused on my game.”
Tennis head coach Karl Santamaria, meanwhile, praised the maturity and fortitude his girls had displayed throughout the season amid a busy academic schedule that clashed with their team’s training schedule.
“Marami sa kanila nagka-problema sa academic schedule. Marami kasi sa kanila seniors na at may OJT at practicum, o nag-thethesis na. Halos lagi kaming hindi kumpleto sa practice, dahil laging may nasa-OJT or nag-thethesis,” the veteran head coach reflected about the team’s season. “But in their own way, they took the time to stay in shape and continue to get better.”
Coach Santamaria also related his optimism with regard to next year’s title defense, as several of their top guns, including the Patrimonio sisters, will return.