This season, the defending UAAP men’s tennis champions University of the East Red Warriors are living up to their billing.
Carrying an unbeaten slate dating back last season’s Finals, the Red Warriors waylaid their opponents from that series, the University of Santo Tomas Male Tennisters, 4-1, to coast to their fifth straight win of the season.
UAAP Season 77 Rookie of the Year Josshua Kinaadman started the rout for the reigning champs after he dispatched Joel Librodo in the first singles match. After a tight start in the opening set, the fourth-year UE standout wrapped it up at 6-2 and followed it up with a better 6-1 win in the second.
National team member and last year’s Most Valuable Player AJ Lim then doubled the advantage for the Red and White with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Dave Mosqueda. The third-year Thomasian made it a battle in the first set, but the second-year Red Warrior found his groove in the second and never looked back after that Mosqueda hold of serve.
The first doubles pair of RJ Saga and Rogelio Estano, Jr. then had to scrape past the returning tandem of Clarence Cabahug and Christian Lopez to take the tie for UE at 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
The other day, Lopez had played singles against Ateneo, where he won, but this time UST opted to field in a stronger doubles tandem. It worked, but it was not enough to stop Saga and Estano, and consequently, UE’s onslaught.
With fewer teams in tow this time, Kinaadman emphasized that the Red Warriors need to continue focusing on the ongoing season. He said, “Focus lang talaga kasi kailangan namin ‘to eh. Para ‘pag na-sweep namin ‘yung second round ulit, twice-to-beat.”
The junior UE student also added that with longer idle days between ties, they needed to work on their conditioning individually. “Dapat mag-extra ka talaga, kanya-kanya. Mahirap kasi sa schedule [‘yung team conditioning training] , kasi iba-iba ng klase, kaya sariling sikap talaga.”
Nico Lanzado and Bernlou Bering took one back for UST in the second doubles match at 6-2, 6-2 over Jeric Delos Santos and Harry Karon, but UE skipper Rodolfo Barquin, Jr. closed out the rout at 6-0, 6-1 over Jaffary Cariga.
The Warriors (5-0) will take on the De La Salle University Green Tennisters (3-3) on Saturday at 8am, while the struggling Male Tennisters (2-4) will have an extra day to prepare for the same team, whom they will face on the following day.