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Tiebreaker Times


UAAP 86 Tennis: Tricia Velez lifts UP to playoff vs UST for right to face NU

University of the Philippines forced a playoff for the second Finals slot against University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Tennis Tournament, prevailing with a 3-2 decision on Sunday at the Felicisimo Ampon Tennis Center, Manila.

The result puts the Fighting Maroons and the Female Tennisters in identical 5-3 win-loss records, behind Finals-bound, undefeated National University Lady Bulldogs at 8-0.

The face-off for the Finals berth is on Saturday.

And it all boiled down to a familiar hero in Tricia Velez for UP.

Just as the now-UP captain pulled off the previous season against the very same team, Velez clinched the tie on her terms.

She sealed the decisive victory in the final singles match, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 against UST rookie Kaye Emana.

The Velez clincher was needed as the two squads split their first four assignments.

Female Tennister Alexei Santos started strong by overpowering Fighting Maroon Renee Esteban with a commanding 6-1, 6-0 victory in the first singles match.

Then the España-based side clawed their way back with a tie-leveling, Justine Maneja and Minette Bentillo romp of UP’s Anica Cari and Jonamil Prado, 6-1, 6-3, in the second doubles match.

UP shook off that Santos win taking the 2-1 lead with Joshea Malazarte and Jesha Cervantes outlasting UST’s Debbie Gom-os and Miles Vitaliano, 6-1, 7-5, in the first doubles rubber.

Then rookie Jufe Cocoy pulled a 6-4, 7-6, escape of Nichole Dela Rita.

The NU Lady Bulldogs, on the other hand, completed their elimination-round sweep with a 3-2 decision past De La Salle University.

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Reigning MVP Mai Bornia and Luivy Carvajal battled against Lady Green Tennisters Amor Idjao and Jam Madis in a tightly contested matchup.

The NU pair ultimately clinched a 6-4, 7-5 victory to take the overall win and extend their unbeaten run to eight.

De La Salle ended their season in last place with a 1-7 record, just behind fellow 1-7 Ateneo de Manila University due to matches won.

On the men’s side, defending champion UST and Ateneo secured a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four with respective 4-1 results over De La Salle and UP.

Male Tennisters Richard Bautista and Nash Agustines secured the overall victory for the back-to-back-seeking side, outplaying Green Tennisters Leyton Portin and RJ Virrey with a commanding 6-1, 6-2 win in the second doubles match.

Similarly, Blue Eagles Nio Tria and Axl Gonzaga dominated the second doubles rubber, defeating Fighting Maroons Rafael Liangco and Allen Rombawa, 6-1, 6-1, to secure the squad’s 10th win of the season

UST and Ateneo ended the eliminations at identical 10-2 win-loss records, but the holders had the head-to-head advantage against the latter, winning both elimination matchups.

In the battle of the two other Final Four-bound teams, University of the East (9-3) got the better of NU (7-5) to secure third place heading into the next round.

Red Warrior Jarrell Edangga faced off against Bulldog Jules Lazaro in the decisive third singles encounter with the former pulling through in three sets, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, to avoid complications in the standings.

UE will face Ateneo, which it is yet to beat this season, in the semifinals.

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Meanwhile, NU will take on UST in the other pairing, starting on Saturday.

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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