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Lady Eagles soar to sweep of Lady Maroons, near Finals return


It has been a while since the Ateneo de Manila University women’s tennis team had their neighbors University of the Philippines’ number.

And in a crucial battle for one of the two Finals spots, the Lady Eagles carved a season sweep of the Lady Maroons with another 4-1 win, and inched closer to a return to the UAAP Finals, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.

Despite having ace singles player and UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year Jana Pages in a doubles match, it did not turn out to be a problem for the Lady Eagles. It even actually worked.

Rookie Martina Bautista opened the day for the Ateneo with a huge 6-3 first set win over Iana Tan. The Maroon newbie made a tussle out of that second set, and even had multiple set points to extend the match after leading at 5-4, but the Lady Eagle pulled through to take the lead at 6-5 before finishing the match at the tiebreak.

Last year’s Rookie of the Year Danielle Carranza could not establish her game in the second singles match, as Khrizelle Sampaton rolled past the former in a 6-1, 6-1 contest. The latter played consistently well throughout the match to put the Lady Eagles at a commanding 2-0 lead.

The Diliman squad pulled one back, as Willow Day registered her second win against the Blue and White. With Dana Uy this time, the first-time Maroon once again showed her presence. UP leaned on their impressive long balls and net plays to deny Jana Hernandez, Nicole Amistad, and Ateneo with a sweep at 6-4, 6-3.

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Nonetheless, Pages and Annika Mallari eventually secured the win for the Lady Eagles.

The Atenean duo took advantage of the miscues of Monica Cortez and Denise Jimenez and executed better to take the first set at 6-3. In the set break, coach Jennifer Saret went to Pages and Mallari and said something.

“She said, ‘The score for the second set should be 6-2 or lower.’ So, we have to win it,” the third-year Pages shared. “So, we put pressure on ourselves and through that there was a lot more focus there and more motivation to finish, because our coach said it better be 6-2 or less.”

The former Rookie of the Year and her partner Mallari heeded to the request and with the determination to get it done, ultimately wrapped the set at a dominant 6-0 finish, sending Ateneo closer to the Finals and UP near the brink of elimination.

The other rookie Carmen So completed her own sweep of UP assignments, taking down Agnes Floress, 6-0, 6-3 in the third singles match.

With history within reach, Pages admitted, “Well, I think, for sure, for everyone there will be pressure. There will be definitely more pressure. But it helps, especially, with tennis being a mental sport; and even if you are playing individually, you are still playing for the team.

“There are times that you should really focus on every point instead of thinking too far ahead. So, it’s focusing on every point, and not relaxing until shaking hands, because the [match] is only over until you shake hands. So, yeah, make every point matter,” she asserted.

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The Lady Eagles (3-1) will try to make it count as they shoot for a Finals appearance when they face archrivals De La Salle University (0-4) on Sunday at 8am. On the other hand, the Fighting Maroons (1-3) will attempt to revive their own championship hopes when they battle league-leaders and finalists University of Santo Tomas (4-0) later that day at 12 noon.

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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