After taking down separate opponents in the previous day, archrivals Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University battled for the solo second spot in the ongoing UAAP Season 80 Men’s Tennis tournament.
At the end of almost four hours of intense competition, the Blue Eagles closed it out with a 3-2 win over the Green Tennisters, marking their fourth straight win of the season.
The Green Tennisters actually took the initiative, as Jonah Cano and Qoqo Allian continued their impressive season, winning the first doubles match against Julian Dayrit and Bong Gonzales. With Anton Punzalan sidelined with a wrist injury for the Ateneo, the rookie Gonzales played in his first doubles match of his UAAP career. In the end, the chemistry of the La Salle duo showed up in a tight 7-6, 6-4 victory.
In the captains’ tussle, however, Ino Canlas found his rhythm in the end to outlast counterpart Kyle Parpan in the first singles match. The two skippers exchanged comfortable 6-2 wins: the first went Canlas’ way and Parpan snared the second, before the fifth-year Atenean completed a come-from-behind win to snag the deciding set and the match at 6-4.
Marcen Gonzales then wrested the lead for the Blue and White, as he pocketed the second singles match past Betto Orendain. Gonzales had to crawl back in that opening set at 6-4, but the second frame was cruise control all the way to the victory.
It was the same for LA Canizares, as he dominated Vernon Huibonhua in the third singles match. The La Sallian rolled past the substitute-for-the-day at 6-0, 6-1.
The tie was then in the hands of Erj Gatdula and Luke Flores or Hans Asistio and Raph Teng.
The Ateneo pair fended off the challenge of the opponents and pulled through in the first set at 7-5, while the third singles match was happening simultaneously in the nearby court. The second set was a truce once more, and after Canizares closed out the final one-versus-one play, all eyes went Court 3’s way.
In the end, a good serve from Flores was converted to an easy net kill by Gatdula on a meek return from La Salle, and Ateneo sealed the solo second spot.
After the match, Blue Eagle captain Canlas blurted out, “What a game!” The fifth-year standout then continued, “It feels great, all the hard works paid off. Too bad, Anton can’t play today like he injured his wrist. But, everyone stepped up today. So, I’m really proud of my team, proud of my coaches, really just everyone who has been a part of this. I’m really thankful.
“However, it’s not yet done, we still have UP. As I said last time, it’s a tough school. They’re still winless now, but they have heart when they play. So, it is gonna tough one, I hope we can pull through.”
The second Battle of Katipunan showdown between Ateneo (4-2) and the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons (0-5) will take place on Saturday at 830am. For their part, the Green Tennisters (3-3) will face the University of the East Red Warriors (5-0) at exactly the same day and time.