With so much to gain and nothing to lose, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles had their last “One Big Fight” moment of the season.
In the process, however, they ended the four-year reign of the National University Bulldogs.
The Loyola-based squad pulled through with a 3-2 decision over the four-time champions to conclude their season on a winning note, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
The defending champions started the day off strong with a huge win from Mack Latorre in the first singles match.
The resurgent sophomore upended AJ Rivero in just two sets, after needing to work in the first, 6-4, 6-0.
The Bulldogs then doubled their lead as Jigo Peña and Justine Prulla edged out Anton Punzalan and Julian Dayrit in the first doubles match, 6-4, 6-3.
Fortunately for the Blue Eagles, their two strongest singles players and their tough doubles pair were still on deck.
Marcen Gonzales consequently started off the comeback after taking down AJ Alejandre in straight sets at 6-4, 6-0. Afterwards, Erj Gatdula and Luke Flores put the tie at a deadlock with quick work of Kiko Alcantara and Allen Manlangit, 6-3, 6-1.
Showing probably his best form in his UAAP career, Ateneo captain Ino Canlas sealed the deal for his squad in the deciding singles match. The true-blue stalwart fended off the challenge of Arc Dolorito and the threat of upcoming darkness to win the match and the tie at 6-2, 6-4.
The Ateneo win eliminated the chance for a playoff for the second Finals spot between the University of Santo Tomas Male Tennisters and the Bulldogs.
The Blue Eagles finished their season with a 4-6 win-loss record.