In an interview before the season started, head coach Ronald Kraut expected them to at least make it to the finals. “For women’s, [they were] third place last year, we’re looking for first or second place this year. So it’s doing better definitely than last year,” explained Kraut.
The expectation made by coach Kraut may have been accurate, but the team faced a tremendous challenge bringing in six rookies to fill in the space of the graduating players. Inexperience was a factor, and so was their competition. Although the UAAP women’s tennis tournament is only composed of five teams, all teams are very much capable of winning the championship and upsets may occur.
In their first game of the eliminations, the Green-and-White fell to the UP Lady Maroons. It was a devastating way to start the season, but team captain Jed Aquino used it as motivation to fuel her team, bringing a winning streak up to the finals. “We used that as a motivation to perform better [in] our next games. Luckily after that loss, we were able to win most of our crucial games, which led us to the finals,” Aquino mentions.
The Lady Tennisters finished the first round of eliminations with a 3-1 win-loss record and a bye advantage. They extended their winning streak in the second round, with victories over ADMU and UP, and finally defeated UST to clinch their first finals berth since 2014.
A final matchup against the NU Lady Bulldogs was apparent. Game 1 of the finals started with a three hour thriller, giving NU the edge at 3-2. The Lady Tennisters were looking to extend the series to a third game, but National University claimed their fifth championship in six years.
Aquino reflects on their unexpected run to the finals and was enamored by her teammates’ performance. “I was surprised and very happy that we were able to reach the finals this season given the fact that our team was composed of six rookies. I am so proud of all [my teammates]; we still have our chance next season,” the team captain exclaims.
With a roster composed of six rookies, three veteran players, a couple of roadblocks, yet they still made it to the finals—a better finish than the year prior. The Lady Tennisters earned The LaSallian’s Surprise Team of the Year award after garnering the underdog mentality in their belt.
The magical run to the finals may have fallen short, but this is just a building block for the team. A team with more experience and chemistry will be the key for a bigger leap and possibly a championship next season.