For the umpteenth time, the University of Santo Tomas Lady Tiger Tennisters reach the Finals of UAAP women’s tennis. Despite clinching the berth days before, the Thomasians pulled the rag off rivals De La Salle University Lady Green Netters to close their elimination round campaign in convincing fashion, 4-1, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
Precian Rivera set the tone of the day for the Tigresses after surviving a long three-set first singles match against Karmina Atangan. The La Sallian rookie won the first set on the account of a solitary break of serve, 6-4. Rivera then mounted a comeback in the following frame to send it into a tiebreak. Eventually, the Thomasian routed Atangan in the extension, 7-3. In the third set, Rivera continued her momentum and eventually dominated La Salle to take the decider and the match, 6-1.
Erika Manduriao doubled the lead for UST with a straight sets win over Jed Aquino. It was a nip-and-tuck affair in the opening set, before Manduriao broke Aquino’s serve in the middle of the frame to take it at 6-4. The Tigress then doubled her break advantage in the second set to secure the win at 6-3.
Ingrid Gonzales and Kendies Malinis clinched UST’s sixth win as they romped to the victory against Khyshana Hitosis and Jenni Dizon. The Thomasians dominated from the get-go and never allowed their opponents to get the feel of the match. Hitosis and Dizon held serve in the second set, but that was all they could get as UST took the match, 6-0 6-1.
The other doubles pair of Shy Gitalan and former Rookie of the Year Lenelyn Milo also plucked a win for the España-based squad, albeit with some difficulties. Nikki Arandia and Anne Castillo tried to keep the match close against UST. Nevertheless, Milo and Gitalan found their groove and won the outing in straight sets, 6-4 6-3.
Marinel Rudas would not let the Lady Green Netters go without any victory as she upended fellow standout in former Most Valuable Player Macy Gonzales. Rudas took advantage of Gonzales’ errors and made a game out of her own plays to get one for the Taft-based squad. The La Sallian took the match in two 6-3 score lines.
With the win, UST have officially entered the Finals with a 6-2 win-loss record and await the National University Lady Bulldogs. NU will face the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Blue Netters on Wednesday. If NU win the tie, the Lady Bulldogs will hold a twice-to-beat advantage against UST in the championship round.
On the other hand, La Salle will face University of the Philippines Lady Maroons to close out their season. The tie will also happen on Wednesday.