MANILA, Philippines – National University (NU) completed another perfect campaign in UAAP Season 76 men's tennis following a 3-2 victory over University of the Philippines (UP) on Tuesday’s finals at the Philippine Columbian Association courts.
The Bulldogs won their second straight title, extending their perfect run to 22 dating back to last season.
"Ngayon ko lang na-realize ito. It was very surprising," said a jubilant NU head coach Karl Santamaria. "Last year, sophomores kami so parang wala pang experience. This year, they are calm and poised."
Season MVP Fritz Verdad was superb in defeating Joshua Cano, 6-2, 6-0, in the deciding singles to seal the title for the Bulldogs.
Leander Lazaro displayed great tenacity in subduing Joshua Miranda, 6-2, 6-2, in the second singles to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead, before the Fighting Maroons sent the game to a decider after Franklin Encarnacion and Gab Gutierrez hacked out a close 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 second doubles triumph over Al-Khady Jainul and John Jeric Accion.
UP drew first blood after Rookie of the Year Jurence Mendoza routed Dheo Talatayod, 6-1, 6-1, in the opening singles before NU leveled the tie after Jigo Pena and Al Michael Madrio beat Enrique Ferrer and Angelo Esguerra, 6-2, 6-1, in the first doubles.
The Bulldogs are only in their third season of the men's tennis tournament under Santamaria but have already accomplished much.
"The other teams beefed up their lineups and the quality of play has increased. NU has set the bar high," said Santamaria, who won seven men's UAAP titles for University of Santo Tomas from 2001-2010.