As they say, when it comes to Blue versus Green, you throw away everything and simply expect a classic.
After a grueling five-match spectacle, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles upended the De La Salle University Green Tennisters, 3-2, to secure their first win of the season, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
Having lost their previous tie against the University of the East, the men from Loyola Heights vowed to do better, and against their archrivals no less.
Senior Ino Canlas opened they day for the Blue Eagles with a huge win over LA Cañizares in the first singles match, 6-0, 6-2. Marcen Gonzales then doubled the lead for the Ateneans after sweeping Raphael Teng in the other singles match, 6-3, 6-1.
In the middle court, however, La Salle showed their determination to end their losing streak. Qoqo Allian and Jonah Cano handily took care of Erj Gatdula and Luke Flores in two 6-1 sets.
With Ateneo holding just a one-match lead, it boiled down to the last two matches: the third singles and the second doubles matches.
Returning player Anton Punzalan, who was to play in the doubles match, shared that before the match, he had thought that, “Since tennis is an individual sport but we’re playing as a team, I just thought no matter what I’m going to win this for my team.”
That determination was badly needed, as Betto Orendain snatched the final singles match over AJ Rivero, 6-1, 6-0, to level it all up. Moreover, Kyle Parpan and Hans Asistio also forced a deciding set against Punzalan and Julian Dayrit in that second doubles match.
“Entering into this third set, I was very tight and everything,” Punzalan admitted. “But then my coaches are telling me to just calm down, to just play for points, don’t go for anything fancy … and it worked.”
It was so efficient that the Blue and White came out victorious at the end of a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 marathon to seal the maiden win.
The now 1-1 Blue Eagles will play against the defending champions National University Bulldogs (0-1) on Wednesday, February 22. The Green Tennisters (0-1) will likewise take on the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons (0-1) on the same day.