UST wins title anew in UAAP men’s table tennis; UP ends drought in women’s division
MANILA, Philippines—It needed work, but University of Santo Tomas simply affirmed what longtime head coach Henberd Ortalla was already confident of since day one—in spite of the tougher road his squad took.
University of Santo Tomas succeeded in its title defense in the UAAP men’s table tennis title as it swept Far Eastern University, 3-0, 3-1, in the best-of-three finals Sunday.
“It was my prediction that we would win again this year. I believe we have the advantage in skills,” said Ortalla, who has stirred the squad to eight titles since he took over in 1997.
UST had to jump through hoops of fire to set up the finals showdown FEU when it fell to third place in the final four and had to overcome La Salle’s crippling twice-to-beat incentive.
“I told my players then that we would never lose again,” said Ortalla, as his squad had to shake off a disappointing first round.
The Tigers, indeed, did not let anything, and anyone, slow them down.
UST’s prized rookie Gil Ablanque even humbled the Tamaraws’ veteran and top player Jhinno Selma in the third singles of game two, 11-7, 12-10 and 12-10, which ultimately sealed the Tiger paddlers’ second straight championship.
The precise-hitting combo of season 74 MVP Aaron Morales and Christian Abendan prevailed in the doubles match, 15-13, 11-7, and 12-10, while Martin Diaz opened up the scoring for UST with a tough 11-5, 8-11, 11-8 and 11-5 win in the first singles over Romiel Igno.
In the women’s table tennis, meanwhile, University of the Philippines got off to a great start in reclaiming the glory, which deserted them for the past decade.
The Maroon Paddlers, teetering on the brink of defeat, came fighting back to wrest their first UAAP women’s table tennis title since 2001—the last year of the squad’s “five-peat.”
“It’s all heart for us. We have been training and waiting for this. Finally, we made it after a decade,” said head mentor Oscar Santelices, who has been the squad’s coach for the last 16 years.
Rookie Rowena Morales, brimming with confidence, secured UP’s 3-2 win in the third game of the best-of-three series with a shutout of Michaella Yagin, 11-8, 14-12 and 11-5.
“It’s a great feeling, we didn’t have a national player. Most of our squad are rookies and sophomores,” added Santelices.
Already just a point away, 0-2, from another heartbreak this season, UP stunned a tough La Salle side with three straight points—including a momentum-shifting triumph by Herapearl Baldo in the third singles, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 9-11, 11-3 over Marcelle Galera.
UP’s Pauline Magpantay, who was adjudged as the tournament’s MVP, paired up with Chesa Lozado to frustrate La Salle’s Darianne Talento and Jellie Yanela, 8-11, 11-7, 13-11 and 11-7, in the doubles match.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.