The UST Male Tennisters draw first blood as they overcome the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 3-2, in Game 1 of the best-of-three UAAP Season 86 men’s tennis finals at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex on Wednesday, April 3. (Photo by Jeremy R. Edera / The Varsitarian)

The UST Male Tennisters edged closer to back-to-back titles after a 3-2 victory over the Ateneo Blue Eagles in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 86 men’s tennis best-of-three finals at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Court on Wednesday, April 3.

UST will attempt to sweep the series in Game 2 at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Court on Saturday, April 6, at 7:30 a.m.

UST’s standout singles player, Ericjay Tangub, was defeated decisively with a 6-4, 6-0 loss to Ateneo’s Noy Seno.

Meanwhile, UST’s Richard Bautista and Nash Agustines cruised past Ateneo’s JJ Llavore and Stef Gurria with a score of 6-0, 6-4.

Reigning MVP Nilo Ledama was stunned by JD Velez in three sets, 6-0, 2-6, 6-4. Sebastian Santos then forced a decider in the last singles match by defeating Austin de los Santos, 7-6, 6-1.

The duo of Steven Sonsona and Symon Jaculan secured the victory for UST in a nail-biting 7-6, 6-7, 7-5 match against Ateneo’s Nio Tria and Axl Gonzaga.

UST head coach Alexander Diego praised the team’s effort despite its key players losing their games.

“Siguro that’s teamwork, makikita mo kasi na talo ‘yong top [players] sa singles, pero at least, ‘yong dalawang doubles saka ‘yong isang singles, nag-step up,” he said.

“Hindi nila ibibigay ‘yan nang madali so kailangan magready kami by Game 2 kasi swerte lang na nanalo kami ngayon.”