An unfortunate incident and a determined National University Bulldogs sent the erstwhile undefeated University of the East Red Warriors to their first loss.
Rodolfo Barquin made a costly mistake of wearing a wrong uniform, but it was the strong showing of the National University Bulldogs in the doubles matches that prevailed, 3-2, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
“Well, the uniform issue was unfortunate, but the rules are there for a reason,” NU head coach Karl Santanaria commented. “And I wouldn’t be doing my job as a coach if I let that infraction slide.”
With that, Barquin forfeited the second singles match in favor of Jeric Accion.
Nonetheless, the day would go on, as both the Red Warriors and the Bulldogs fought the rest of the matches.
All four remaining matches were held concurrenly, but the singles matches finished first and UE emerged with the 2-1 lead.
Josshua Kinaadman drubbed Macky Latorre, 6-1, 6-1 in the second singles match. Rookie AJ Lim followed suit with a dominant win of Arc Dolirito in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0, in the third singles match.
The Bulldogs Kiko Alcantara and Allen Manlangit opened the first doubles match, blanking Jeric Delos Santos and Paulo Baran. Nonetheless, Rogelio Estaño and RJ Saga took theirs at 6-1 over Justine Prulla and Jigo Peña.
The opening-frame losers turned it around in the following one, and forced their respective matches into deciding third.
Eventually, both NU tandems finished off the two doubles matches. Alcantara and Manlangit pocketed theirs at 6-0, 3-6, 7-5. On their part, Prulla and Peña completed their comeback at 1-6, 6-1, 6-0.
Santamaria was pleased with how his wards had responded after that sorry loss against the De La Salle University to end the first round.
“After that disappointing effort versus DLSU, I had to send a message to the team that sub-par effort and lack of desire and sense of urgency cannot be accepted,” he shared. “We’ll have our good days and bad days, but lack of effort and competitive attitude and heart can never be the reason why we will lose a match.”
Santamaria noted that the uniform issue was unfortunate, but the defending champions worked hard for this win. “We still had to win two more matches, which we did, and it was both in three sets so it’s not like we didn’t earn it,” the champion coach said. “We caught some breaks in the end, but I always tell my players, you create your luck. If you compete every point and become the agressor, you will get some points to go your way.”
The Bulldogs (3-3), with the win, solidifies their bid for a return trip to the Finals, and will take on the Green Archers (3-4) on Wednesday, March 8. On the other hand, the Red Warriors (6-1) will try to shake off the setback when they face the Ateneo De Manila University (3-4) later that day.