National University began its title defense after defeating Ateneo de Manila University 4-1 in the UAAP Season 85 Women’s Tennis tournament on Sunday, Mar. 12, at the Felicisimo Ampon Tennis Center in Malate, Manila.
With only two members of the UAAP 81 champion team remaining on the roster, the Lady Bulldogs saw a mix of these two seniors and newbies pull off the win.
The two seniors, Alliah Ragunton and captain Alyssa Mae Bornia, blanked Bea De Ocampo and Gabby Sandejas 6-0, 6-0 in the first doubles match, before Rovie Baulete and Jan Marie Anghag clinched the tie with a similar rout of Francesca Cruz and Mariam Garsin, 6-1, 6-1.
“Happy naman po kami sa performance namin. For the first and second doubles, naipanalo po namin. Yun lang po, sa third singles medyo nadehado kami. Pero happy naman po sa performance ng team overall,” Ragunton said of the good start to the title-retention bid.
Althea Ong prevented a shutout for the Blue Eagles with a 6-2, 6-3 decision over Jessica Mae Cueva.
University of Santo Tomas, though, stole the spotlight as the Tennisters took the solo lead at 2-0 after a 3-2 win over erstwhile co-leader University of the Philippines.
UP’s Rachel Velez came from behind to keep seasoned Miles Vitaliano winless in the season, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, to equalize the tie.
Patricia Lim eventually closed it out with a net-approach winner for UST, 7-5, 7-5, with partner Kryshana Brazal over Fighting Maroons Anna De Myer and Renee Esteban.
In the men’s side, UST also took its second win after taking care of defending champions NU, 3-2.
Nilo Ledama stayed undefeated in two matches to clinch the win for the Tennisters, 7-5, 6-2 over Aljon Talatayod in the second singles match.
UST earlier took the first two matches with Eric Tangub over Jude Ceniza, 7-5, 3-3 (ret.), and John Sonsona and Vince Serino over Rucel Cero and Feb Deja, 6-7, 6-4, 6-1.
The Tennisters pulled off the upset with a familiar name for the Bulldogs’ side now joining them in coach Johnny Arcilla, who had been with former NU coach Karl Santamaria in the school’s previous title run.
“Siguro nakatulong din na dati akong nasa NU. Alam ko yung mga galaw-galaw nila. Sinabi ko sa players ko na ‘Ito ang gawin mo, ganito ganyan.’ Happy naman ako na na-apply nila,” Arcilla shared.
University of the East and UP also won for the day over Adamson University and De La Salle University with 5-0 sweeps.
Red Warriors’ Jarell Edangga paced the squad with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Jefrey Burgos, while rookie Loucas Fernandez got his second win of the season for the Fighting Maroons, 6-2, 6-0, over EJ Geluz.