April 21, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. - Weather played a major roll on the second day of the 2012 Conference USA Men's Tennis Championships and ultimately could have cost Tulane a chance to claim their first tournament win since 2005 as the fifth-seeded Green Wave fell, 4-1, to No. 4 seed UAB in a dual match that began Friday morning at the UCF Tennis Complex and concluded just after 8 a.m. CT on Saturday.
UAB (17-8) led 3-1 on Friday when weather rolled into the Orlando area that caused a 17 hour delay in the match. When the weather hit, Tulane (12-11) was leading in the third set of both remaining matches in an attempt to tie the match and force doubles to be played.
Doubles was not played first due to impending weather.
"This was a full team effort from our guys," Tulane head coach Mark Booras said. "I am truly proud of them for investing everything they had in this match. They implemented all aspects of our team philosophies and individual tactics against a very solid UAB opponent. We had to deal with a lot of adversity with weather delays, and changing the format before the match started but our guys found a way to get themselves in a position to be successful. Honestly, this was probably the most complete match we played all year; unfortunately, we came up a bit short."
Tulane won the first set in three matches. In addition to Mark and Wali, Takuma Ohashi, on court six, also claimed a first set win.
"The guys took the lead in different spots, and everybody came back from being down at some point," Booras added. "I saw resilience in all of their attitudes regardless of their score and that shows a lot of maturity by them."
Rodrigo Rappaccioli earned Tulane's lone point of the watch with a three-set victory over Lucas Dirube on court five. Rappaccioli dropped the first set, 7-5, but rebounded to win sets two and three, 6-2, 6-3, respectively to win the point.
"Rodrigo did a great job of coming from back from a set down to get out first point after the team got down 3-0," Booras said. "Then Idan had match points in the second and got back up in the third and was closing it out up 5-2.
"My hat goes off to our lone senior, Shaye Wali, who did an unbelievable job of coming from behind and getting in to a position to close it out before the lightning and rains came," Booras added. "We had everything going in our favor on Friday in regards to momentum, both Shaye and Idan were up in their last sets, Shaye had broken down his opponent, literally, who was actually cramping at the time and the opposing coach was contemplating if he would even finish the match, and then the rain came."
Unfortunately for Tulane UAB's Chris Helliar was able to recover on Saturday morning when play resumed and claim a 6-4 win in the third set to clinch the match for the Blazers.
"Saturday morning was probably one of the most difficult scenarios you could imagine for Shaye's match, having to start serving at 4-4 30-30 with the match on the line," Booras said. "But I'm proud of the way he believed in himself, trusted his game plan, took chances and played to win when he needed to instead of playing scared and playing not to lose.
"Shaye has been a true champion for us throughout his career at Tulane and has led us to new heights each year since we restarted the program," added Booras. "I am very thankful that Shaye took a chance on us at Tulane to do something unique in rebuilding our program from scratch. I am positive that his experience here combined with his great attitude and giving heart will thrust him towards success in whatever career he chooses. "
UAB advanced to face top-seeded Tulsa Saturday afternoon at the UCF Tennis Center.