By Jean Malanum

TOO STRONG. National University’s Elsie Abarquez hits a two-handed backhand return during the UAAP Season 86 women’s tennis competition at the Felicisimo Ampon Tennis Center-Rizal Memorial Sports Complex on Sunday (Feb. 25, 2024). Abarquez defeated Ateneo’s Althea Ong, 6-1, 6-0, as NU went on to win, 3-2, for a league-leading 3-0 card. (UAAP photo)

MANILA – Defending champion National University (NU) defeated Ateneo de Manila University, 3-2, to remain undefeated in the UAAP Season 86 women’s tennis competition at the Felicisimo Ampon Tennis Center-Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila on Sunday.

Elsie Abarquez stamped her class over Althea Ong, 6-1, 6-0; Angela Cabaral and Rivie Baulete demolished Tricia Howard and Nina Sandejas, 6-0, 6-0; and Adeline Abadia downed Chelsea Roque, 6-3, 6-3, as the Lady Bulldogs picked up their third win.

The Lady Eagles, who absorbed their fourth straight loss, managed to score after Mariam Garsim and Faye Dizon outplayed Alliah Ragunton and Julia Carvajal in the doubles, 7-5, 7-5; and Althea Martirez walked over Danna Abad in the third singles.

“I’m happy with the performance of the team. Everyone contributed, hopefully we’ll keep the momentum,” skipper Allyssa Mae Bornia said in an interview on Monday.

“But we still have a lot of things to work on as a team and individually,” added Bornia, who won the Philippine Columbian Association (PCA) Open doubles title with Shaira Hope Rivera last year.

Meanwhile, University of Santo Tomas (UST) routed Season 85 runner-up University of the Philippines, 5-0, to share second place with its opponent at 2-1.

Patricia Lim beat Renee Esteban, 6-4, 6-3, in the opening singles; Debbie Gom-os and Miles Vitaliano conquered Season 85 Rookie of the Year Joshea Malazarte and Jesha Cervantes, 6-3, 6-2 in the doubles, and Alex Santos rallied past rookie Jufe Cocoy, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, to seal the Tigresses’ victory.

In the men’s division, UST rolled to its fourth win at the expense of Ateneo, 4-1, in a rematch of last season’s final won by the Growling Tigers.

Season 85 Rookie of the Year-Most Valuable Player Nilo Ledama triumphed over Noy Seno, 6-1, 1-6, 6-2; Steven Sonsona and Symon Jaculan won over JJ Llavore and Stef Gurria, 6-2, 0-1 (ret.), and Eric Jay Tangub trounced rookie JD Valdez, 6-1, 6-4.

The Blue Eagles scored their first point in the best-of-five tie after Nio Tria and Axl Gonzaga beat Richard Bautista and Geo Serino, 3-6, 7(4)-6, 6-2, before the Growling Tigers won the third singles courtesy of Sebastian Santos, who defeated Austin Delos Santos, 6-3, 6-1.

Ateneo suffered its first loss, creating a three-way tie for second with last year’s semifinalists NU and University of the East (UE).

NU prevailed over De La Salle University, 4-1, while UE blanked Adamson University, 5-0. (PNA)