For nine straight ties, the University of the East Red Warriors emerged victorious and along came their second consecutive UAAP Men’s Tennis title.
The defending champions left nothing to chance as they blanked the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, 3-0, Saturday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
UAAP Season 77 Rookie of the Year Josshua Kinaadman protected his own unscathed record to put the defending champions on board. Ateneo’s AJ Rivero tried to keep in step with the UE standout taking some games to deuce, only the UE senior bagged the crucial points.
Kinaadman bagged the victory at 6-3, 6-2 for the early lead.
The solid tandem of Erj Gatdula and Luke Flores started strong for the Blue Eagles, capitalizing on the early frustrations of Rogelio Escaño Jr. and RJ Saga with a 7-5 win in the first set.
Nonetheless, when the two Red Warriors seniors got their game going, it was cruise control from there. With better execution in the succeeding sets and mental fortitude, Saga and Estaño pocketed the next two sets at two 6-3 score lines, putting UE in the cusp of the title.
And with AJ Lim on deck, the championship is within reach.
The reigning Most Valuable Player once more bucked first serve woes to take the first frame at 6-1, allowing Ino Canlas just a game on the latter’s serve.
It was the same story in the second set as Lim got his rhythm early to get to 4-0, before the graduating Ateneo captain bagged another game on his serve. A crucial hold of serve to go up at 5-1 and another break sealed the championship for the Red Warriors.
The national team standout was pleased that all their sacrifices paid off with another title for the Red and White. He said, “Alam namin na maganda ‘yung chances namin to win the UAAP championship. So, para sa ‘min tinake lang namin one match a time. Hindi namin biniro lahat ng kalaban namin. Talagang every point, every game importante.”
Team captain Rodolfo Barquin Jr. echoed Lim’s statements, and added that he was proud of batchmate Estaño and partner Saga for clinching that crucial doubles match.
“Kabang-kaba kami, pero syempre tiwala kami sa palo nila. Sa mga kasama namin alam naman namin na pagdating sa court, ibibigay nila ‘yung best nila,” he shared.
Ateneo’s Bong Gonzales was named as this year’s Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, Lim snagged his second straight Most Valuable Player award.
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