In what would be a preview of this Finals, the reigning three-peat champions National University Lady Bulldogs had to face adversity.
After shaking off a strong fight from the University of Santo Tomas Female Tennisters, the Lady Bulldogs pulled off a win and remained undefeated in six ties, Wednesday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
The Tomasinas threatened an upset win after taking a 2-1 lead over the defending queens.
Erika Manduriao finished off an ailing Jzash Canja in straight sets in the opening singles match. The UST standout swept her opponent, 6-1, 6-3. Then the doubles tandem of April Santos and Precian Rivera overcame a first-set stumble to win over Zaza Paulino and Goldie Nagret, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Nonetheless, Season 77 Most Valuable Player Clarice Patrimonio had already put the Blue and Gold on the board with two 6-2 set wins over Ingrid Gonzales.
Reigning MVP Tin Patrimonio then closed out her tussle with Kendies Malinis, 6-2, 6-0, to force a tie.
That deciding doubles match already had the first two sets wrapped up, with NU’s Apol Polito and Ana Bienes and UST’s Shymae Gitalan and Genevieve Caorte splitting the frames between them.
Before the start of the third set, Gitalan showed signs of cramping. However, the long-time upstart shook it off and continued playing.
It was at 3-2, with the Bulldogs leading, that Gitalan suddenly stopped after a net approach and fell down. The medical team tried to treat her right ankle, but the Tomasina could not even get up.
With such situation, the Tigresses slowly yielded time delay penalties and, eventually, conceded the match and the tie to NU.
The Lady Bulldogs (6-0) will try to keep their streak alive when they face the De La Salle University Lady Green Tennisters (1-5) on Saturday, March 11, at 12pm. On their part, the Female Tennisters (5-2) will attempt to close their elimination round with a win when they face the Ateneo De Manila University Lady Eagles (1-4) earlier at 8am.