UAAP: Green, Lady Paddlers complete rare back-to-back double championships

The DLSU Green Paddlers and Lady Paddlers ended their seasons in style after once again capturing both the Men’s and Women’s championships in this year’s edition of the UAAP Table Tennis Tournament held at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium last October 29.

The Green Paddlers won their third consecutive title and their fourth in five years. The Lady Paddlers, on the other hand, have clinched two straight trophies after a heartbreaking second place finish two years prior.

Heading into Season 78 as the favorites to win it all, La Salle not only proved their status as perennial title contenders, but they also dominated the opposition. The Lady Paddlers, in particular, finished the year with an undefeated record, sweeping the elimination round and clinching the championship over FEU in two games.

The Green Paddlers, meanwhile, lost in their first game against UST but bounced back to win the rest of their games. They capped off the streak with a victory in the finals over the Growling Tigers, avenging their lone loss in the tournament.

Masaya. Yung mga pinaghirapan namin, dito nagbunga,” said Paddlers head coach Lauro Crisostomo on the rare feat.

Table Tennis - Kevin Prudon []

Season sweep

There was never a doubt that the Lady Paddlers were indeed the team to beat in the Women’s Tournament. They went through all 14 elimination round games without a single loss, with only one match reaching five sets.

With their undefeated record at the end of the first two rounds, the Lady Paddlers secured a place in the finals, along with a thrice-to-beat advantage against whoever emerged from the stepladder playoffs, which in the end turned out to be the second-seed FEU Lady Tamaraws.

La Salle raced to an early 2-0 lead in the first finals game with Jane Sy and Yan Lariba sweeping their competition. Carexa Bernaldez and Ina Co had a tough outing against FEU’s Jasmine Jaro and Lyndel Sellado as the Lady Paddlers needed all five games to overcome the Lady Tamaraws, 3-2, and take a 1-0 lead in their finals series.

Needing only one more game to clinch the title, the Lady Paddlers went full throttle in the second game. Lariba handily took the first match, sweeping Talay, 3-0. The following game saw the Morayta-based paddlers bounce back, with Sy absorbing a 3-2 defeat from Pineda. In the doubles match, the tandem of Co and Bernaldez made short work of the Soya and Jaro tandem, 3-0, to take a 2-1 lead in the game.

Emy Dael faced Rose Fadol in what would be the fourth and final set. Unlike the previous three sets, the two girls battled it out all the way to the fifth and final game. Up by only one, 10-9, Dael was able to outlast her competitor to clinch the title for La Salle.

Lariba was named the UAAP Season 78 tournament MVP in addition to finishing her five-year college career undefeated in singles play. Dael took home Rookie of the Year honors to complete one of the best performances by a collegiate team in recent memory.


Dominant three-peat

After a stellar performance in the elimination round that saw the Green Paddlers beat teams with 3-0 and 3-1 scores, they emerged as the top seed armed with a 13-1 win loss record and a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.

In their semifinals game against NU, John Misal gave the Bulldogs an early lead but Walden Ledesma, and the doubles team of Tarak Cabrido and Edmund Garganian quickly retaliated to give the Paddlers a 2-1 lead. With Carlo Mateo falling to Huab, three sets to one, Francis Garganian swept his opponent to give DLSU a 3-2 win and a spot in the finals.

In the championship round, the Green Paddlers would face the team that handed them their sole loss, UST, who last held the title in Season 76. Team captain Ledesma quickly finished the first game against Gil Abalanque in three sets. Unfortunately, UST’s Adolfo Bazar tied the match by beating Jethro Yatco in three sets out of four. With the drive to take back the lead, Cabrido and E. Garganian swept the doubles game against UST’s Norielle Pantoja and Bazar. F. Garganian clinched the match after taking down Alberto Bazar, three sets to one, bringing the Green Paddlers to within one win of the crown.

The second finals match saw Bazar give the Growling Tigers an early advantage by beating Yatco, three sets to two. Ledesma then tied the match after winning over UST’s Ablanque, 3-2. The doubles team of Pantoja and Bazar grabbed the lead for UST by defeating the team of Cabrido and E. Garganian, 3-1. With the pressure mounting, F. Garganian managed to win in four games, 3-1, against UST’s Paul Que. Feeling the weight of the game on their shoulders, Mateo kept his composure against Christian Abendan and won the game for DLSU, 3-1, sealing the Green Paddlers’ third straight championship.

Ledesma was named the season MVP while Mateo was adjudged as the UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year.

Josef Fuentebella

By Josef Fuentebella

Renz Lucas

By Renz Lucas

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