College of St. Benilde relied on its singles victories to turn back an upset-conscious San Sebastian College, 2-1, to close in on the men’s title at the start of the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association lawn tennis tournament at the Rizal Tennis Center on Sunday.
Jet Asilo waylaid John Sanga, 6-2, 6-3, in the reverse singles match to seal the match for the Blazers, who swept the eliminations that concluded Thursday with nine wins to clinch the first round pennant.
Radha Reyes edged Francis Panaligan, 6-3, 7-6 (5), in the opening singles to give St. Benilde the early edge but Ramzie Manonsong and John Paul Gulfo outlasted Mav Victoria and Carl Catedral, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, in the doubles the level the match at one apiece.
Asilo then came through to wrap it all up for the Blazers.
The win sent St. Benilde two wins away from clinching the second crown overall in the sport after copping its first and only championship 13 years ago.
It will take on San Beda and Letran in their last two outings hoping to accomplish such feat.
The Red Netters, the defending champions and the league’s second most titled tennis team with 15 or just two behind Mapua’s 17, however, are not going down without a fight after they survived the Knights, 2-1.
Vince Carlo Ramiscal downed Hilbert San Jose, 7-6 (4), 6-3, and Andre Tuason trounced Carlo Nono, 6-4, 7-6 (3), to seal the victory.
Letran’s lone triumph came in the doubles courtesy of a 7-6 (2), 6-2 win by Ivan Valenzuela and Adjuthor Moralde over Andre Rodriguez and Eric Fernandez.
If San Beda, which finished second in the elims with an 8-1 (win-loss) record, can beat St. Benilde and end up No. 1 in the four-team second round, it will force a knockout duel on Wednesday for the championship.