Just as they did last year, the defending UAAP men’s tennis champions University of the East Red Warriors swept the first round of eliminations.
The Red Warriors just needed the first three matches to complete the romp, ultimately upending the De La Salle University Green Tennisters, 4-1, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
Josshua Kinaadman opened the day with a comprehensive win in the first singles match. The fourth-year standout only allowed a service hold and went out of the match victorious at 6-1, 6-0.
In Court 2, as Kinaadman built his lead, the tandem of Rogelio Estaño and RJ Saga also took care of Hans Asistio and Kyle Parpan in the first set of the first doubles match at 6-3. Eventually, they doubled the lead with a 6-4 second frame win.
Betto Orendain started strong for La Salle, pocketing the first set of the singles match at 6-3 over UE skipper Rodolfo Barquin Jr.
In the first set, the UE captain admitted that, “Nung first set, ‘yung mentality ko is mas lumamang ‘yung inis ko , ‘di ako naka-focused sa laro ko, kasi may ano siya eh, strategy na kapag natapos ‘yung points patatagalin niya ‘yung bago siya mag-serve, bago siya mag-receive, kaya dun ako nainis.”
Nonetheless, Barquin slowly crept into a 1-3 deficit before snagging the second set at the tiebreak.
Being on the most exposed court to the elements, Orendain slowly cramped and was forced to retire after three games on the deciding set, conceding the match and the tie to Barquin and the rest of the Red Warriors.
The third-year Green Tennister was rushed out on an ambulance. La Salle head coach Roland Kraut confirmed later that day that Orendain is well after suffering severe cramps.
Jonah Cano and Qoqo Allian salvaged La Salle’s pride in the second doubles match with a 6-2, 7-6 decision over Justin Guira and Jeric Delos Santos. AJ Lim completed the rout for the defending champions, taking down LA Cañizares at 6-0, 6-3.
At the end of the day, it was still UE’s day and for Barquin it was a great start to their title defense.
”Siyempre, masaya kami kasi worth it ‘yung pinaghirapan namin,” he commented on the first round sweep. “Hindi lang sa ‘kin, kundi as a team pinaghirapan namin. Isa-isa, hindi kami nagbigay ng kumpiyansa. Kung kailangang kunin, kunin na talaga.”
UE hopes to continue the romp up to the end of the eliminations to clinch the coveted twice-to-beat advantage, which is something deprived from them last year due to some uniform mishap.
“Kailangan naming bumawi. So, kung pagbibigyan man ng Diyos, mas mabuti. Ang kulang namin as a team ngayon is calisthenics. Dapat may hangin kami,” he stressed. “Lahat naman ng players may skills, nagkakatalo lang sa conditioning. Condition dapat ‘yung katawan.”
The Red Warriors (4-0) drew a second round opening bye and will face UST Male Shuttlers(2-2) on Sunday, February 25. On the other hand, the Green Tennisters (2-2), which is in second place due to superior quotient will battle the UP Fighting Maroons (0-4) on the previous day.