The Letran Paddlers succumbed to a fierce championship as they both settled for first runner-up titles in Season 94 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Table Tennis tournament, on September 10 at the Emilio Aguinaldo College Gym.
The games saw College of Saint Benilde and San Beda University dominate over the opposition, with CSB and SBU taking the championship in the Men’s and Women’s Division respectively.
The men’s team was on the hot seat and their composure under pressure was put to the test after John Mañago suffered in the third singles match against Ryan Jacolo, handing over the win to CSB.
On the other hand, the Lady Paddlers faced sudden death knockout rounds as Trixie Catapang and Kristiane Lim failed to grab a win from their rival which was followed by another loss from the doubles match of Rica Enriquez and Hanna Tayad against Magcale and Manez of SBU.
Despite the challenges that came along the way, the teams never stopped supporting and motivating each other. Women’s team captain Roxanne Besabella mentions that the biggest factor her team had was the positive mindset. “Proud na proud ako sa teammates ko na nag-step up sa mga games nila, pinakita yung best nila. Kahit di pinalad, thankful pa rin kami.”
Men’s team captain Mañago also echoed the same sentiments: “Although mahirap man, pero praise the Lord, talagang nakapunta kaming lahat sa championship.”
Head coach Noel Gonzales puts emphasis on how the teams overcame the toughest of odds with the help of a stronger lineup, one that saw gradual improvement as the season progressed: “Good thing naman ‘dun eh lumaban talaga ‘yung teams magmula sa eliminations, talagang binigay nila ang best, close fight naman talaga.”
Meanwhile, after their stellar performance in the finals against San Beda University, the Letran Juniors’ team reigned supreme in this year’s Table Tennis tournament to emerge as champions.
Entering the competition as underdogs, the Squires swept the entire competition and finished not only as champions but also ended up with an unblemished record.
While Letran was not able to capture the MVP awards of both divisions, Junior table tennis player Matt Ramos was named NCAA Season 94 Most Valuable Player.