Joven-Rudas duo wins mixed doubles crown

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

FORMER University of Mindanao standout Ronard Joven and De La Salle University mainstay Marinel Rudas escaped past National University bets Leander Lazaro and Hannah Grace Espinosa, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the 3rd National Men's and Women's Invitational Tennis Championships mixed doubles finals match that lasted for two hours and 50 minutes yesterday.

As Lazaro and Espinosa pulled off a deciding third set, Joven and Rudas got their acts together to keep their rivals at bay, 4-1. But the NU tandem won't let up as they volleyed and challenged Isulan-born Joven and Rudas to a series of deuces to force a 4-4 standoff. The latter however took another point courtesy of Joven's services for a 5-4 lead.

Lazaro and Espinosa, however, made bounced back to level the match at 5-all, drawing cheers from a capacity crowd at Woodridge Tennis Club courts in Ma-a amid excruciating heat of the sun.


As the pressure built up, the more experienced pair of Joven and Rudas maximized on the crucial errors of Lazaro and Espinosa, raising their arms in victory after sealing the match.

The 29-year-old Joven, assistant coach of the NU tennis varsity team, said they were complacent in the second set when they could have already secured the title after two sets.

"Nag-relax kami sa second set. Pagpasok sa third set, kampante kami nung nag 4-1 na, nag 4-2, nag 4-3, at nag tie pa, sobrang pressure kaya sigaw lang ako ng sigaw para mailabas ko ang pressure ng laro," Joven said in an interview with Sun.Star Davao after the game.

Joven was happy to have annexed his first title in the third edition of the tournament, saying, "First time kong manalo sa tournament na ito. Magaling kasi ang partner ko." He also competed in 2011 and 2012 stagings of the event presented by Merco, Selecta and Flot Group.

Rudas, 19, reciprocated the compliment, saying, "Magaling ang partner ko (smiles). Hindi ako sanay sa mahabang game, ang sakit ng legs ko. Napagod na talaga ako, hindi na ako makapag volley."

It was also Rudas' first title in her second stint in the netfest. But she was set to play for another title when she plays top-seed Edilyn Balanga, who hails from Spain, in the women's singles finals as of press time.

Joven also cited their rivals, adding: "Nahirapan kami. Magaling si Lazaro sa baseline at si Espinosa naman magaling din sa volley. Sobrang dikit talaga ang third set. Malakas ang doubles nila, relax lang din sila sa game. Maganda ang kanilang tandem."

In women's doubles finals, Balanga and Rogan avenged their first meeting loss by beating twice-to-beat pair of Kidapawan City's Jzash Canja of NU and Cebu City's Sally Mae Siso of the University of San Carlos, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to set up a sudden death match later Sunday afternoon.

Joven and Marc Reyes and Ralph Kevin Barte and Patrick John Tierro were still playing for the men's doubles title as of presstime.

The singles finals for both men's and women's divisions were set in the evening.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 17, 2014.


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