NATIONAL University capped its perfect UAAP men’s tennis season with a 3-1 drubbing of University of Santo Tomas Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
The Bulldogs won their first-ever title via an 11-0 (win-loss) record dating back to the elimination round.
The triumph eased the pain of the host’s Finals setback to La Salle last season, when he the Bustillos-based netters made their debut.
“It was tough. We are still inexperienced, but yung heart at yung kagustuhan na manalo ang nagdala sa amin,” said Bulldogs coach Karl Santamaria.
“Ayaw nilang maramdaman yung nangyari sa amin last year. We can only get better from here. I’m expecting them this skill level and more championship experience in the coming years. Sophomore team lang ito, this maybe the start of something big for us,” he added.
The Growling Tigers, who are seeking to force a decider, started the tie on the right track, as RK Barte routed Al Khady Jainul, 6-0, 6-1, in the opening singles.
But things went downhill for UST, as NU took the next three matches of the tie to win the Season 75 championship.
The defending champion Tigresses, meanwhile, forged a best-of-three title showdown with La Salle as UST eliminated University of the Philippines for the second straight year, 3-2.
Zaza Paulino bailed out the Tigresses, bucking a second set loss to defeat JV Custodio, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, in the deciding singles.
UST also drew wins from the doubles pairs of Dianne Bautista and Jhie Helar, as well as reigning MVP Macy Gonzales and April Santos.
The Finals opener between the top seeded Lady Archers and the Tigresses is set Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Season MVP Leander Lazaro blanked Bernanlou Bering, 6-0, 6-0, in the second singles, while Dheo Talatayod and Al Michael Madrio went thru the wringer before hacking out a 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Randy Delavin and Bernardine Baring in the first doubles.
Jigo Peña and Tim Polero wrapped things up for the Bulldogs with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 second doubles win over Ryan Montalbo and Francis Patiño.
“Ito talaga ang pinaghandaan namin. After two years, nag-paid off. Lahat ng pinaghirapan namin during the off season,” said the 19-year old Lazaro. “Hardwork pa rin for next season, hindi kami puwedeng mag-relax.
As a consolation for the Tigers, Joel Cabusas was named season the Rookie of the Year.