Photo from Letran Sports
By Miguel La Torre
Coming out as runners-up in last year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tennis tournament, the Letran Tennis Team capped off Season 93 two places behind their last finish in a dismal yet colorful way.
With a line-up of Carlo Nono in the first singles match, the doubles with the tandem of team captain Ivan Valenzuela and Vincent Gelaga, and the deciding singles ace Hilbert San Jose, the Knights started the season strong, winning back-to-back games and thrashing opponents Jose Rizal University and Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Without dropping a set in their first two games, the team enjoyed a comfortable spot on the top of the standings. However, the next two games saw the Knights struggle with different pairings and physical health issues – costing them to lose their next two matches against University of Perpetual Help and San Beda University.
The following games were a seesaw battle, winning the remaining two games and losing one against old rivals and defending champion College of St. Benilde. Letran finished the elimination round 5-3 and sealed the fourth and final spot at the Final Four, setting a finals rematch of against St. Benilde once again.
The Knights had a twice-to-beat disadvantage against the defending champions. Despite winning the first match and settling a do-or-die, the Blazers were tough to handle and still retained the title. “Ang nangyari kasi nung first game, ‘yung unang match si Carlo [Nono], natalo. Tapos sa doubles which is kami [Valenzuela and Gelga], nanalo. Tapos sa deciding match, si Hilbert [San Jose] nakuha namin,” Valenzuela narrated. “Nung second game naman, nagpalit ng pairing. Ang first single namin si San Jose, nag crumps. Tapos sa doubles panalo. Dun sa last, natalo na,” he disclosed.
“Ang sakit samin, sayang talaga kasi ramdam namin sa sarili namin na kaya namin eh. Bilang isang leader, ako yung nag m’motivate sa kanila kasi ‘yang mga ‘yan parang kapatid ko na ‘yan eh, ang sabi ko sa kanila walang sisihan, manalo o matalo buo tayo” explained Valenzuela. “Kung may natutunan man kami lahat, ‘yun ‘yung trust namin sa isa’t isa at ‘yung teamwork namin.”