April 17, 2014
TULSA, Okla. ---- The UAB men's tennis team posted a 4-2 victory over UTSA Thursday in its opening round match at the 2014 Conference USA Championship, but Blazers' head coach Derek Tarr said his team will have to improve its performance Friday when it plays Tulane.
UAB (13-8), seeded seventh, won the doubles point for the 16th time in 21 matches and then won at three singles positions against the No. 10 seeded Roadrunners to advance to Friday's quarterfinal match with the Green Wave.
"This was a hard-fought victory," head coach Derek Tarr said after the match. "I knew we were in for a tough match because they (UTSA) played us close earlier in the year (4-3 UAB win in Birmingham on Feb. 16). If we're going to have a chance to beat Tulane, we're going to have to elevate our game."
Helliar, from Bournemouth, England, teamed with Martell at No. 1 doubles to defeat the UTSA tandem of Joel Rubio and Tomas Stillman, 8-1. The Blazer duo's win is more impressive considering that Rubio and Stillman have been ranked as high as No. 16 nationally this season in the ITA doubles rankings.
The Roadrunners (9-17) evened things in doubles with an 8-6 win at No. 2 by Yannick Junger and Boburjon Kamiljanov over Lucas Dirube and Donovan McSeveney. But UAB was able to claim the doubles point with a victory at No. 3 as Pinto and Rafael Rondino teamed to beat Fabian Brand and Diogo Casa, 8-6.
Martell and Pinto were able to secure the UAB win with their victories at No. 5 and 6 singles, respectively, but both matches were tightly contested.
Martell downed UTSA's Kolby Kilgo at No. 5, 6-3, 7-6 (3), and then Pinto sealed the Blazers' victory with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win at No. 6 over the Roadrunners' Harley Pearson.
The lone remaining match on the courts -- Rondino vs. Stillman at No. 2 singles -- was also headed for a close finish. Stillman won the first set 7-5 before Rondino came back to take the second, 7-6. The third and decisive set had not begun when Pinto clinched the match for UAB.
When the Blazers face No. 67-ranked and No. 2 seed Tulane (13-8) Friday at 10 a.m. in a quarterfinal matchup, UAB will be going against a team it defeated 4-3 back on Feb. 15, ironically a day before it defeated UTSA in the earlier meeting.
2014 Conference USA Men's Tennis Championships
Case Tennis Center | Tulsa, Okla.
UAB 4, UTSA 2
No. 1 - Chris Helliar/Mitchell Martell (UAB) def. #79 Joel Rubio/Tomas Stillman (UTSA) 8-1
No. 2 - Yannick Junger/Boburjon Kamiljanov (UTSA) def. Lucas Dirube/Donovan McSeveney (UAB) 8-6
No. 3 - Luiz Felipe Pinto/Rafael Rondino (UAB) def. Fabian Brand/Diogo Casa (UTSA) 8-6
No. 1 - #87 Chris Helliar (UAB) def. Yannick Junger (UTSA) 6-2, 6-3
No. 2 - Rafael Rondino (UAB) vs. Tomas Stillman (UTSA) 5-7, 7-6 (4), unfinished
No. 3 - Joel Rubio (UTSA) def. Stepan Vancurik (UAB) 6-2, 3-6, 6-0
No. 4 - Diogo Casa (UTSA) def. Donovan McSeveney (UAB) 7-6 (3), 6-2
No. 5 - Mitchell Martell (UAB) def. Kolby Kilgo (UTSA) 6-3, 7-6 (3)
No. 6 - Luiz Felipe Pinto (UAB) def. Harley Pearson (UTSA) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Records: UAB 13-8, UTSA 9-17
Order of finish: Doubles (1, 2, 3); Singles (1, 4, 3, 5, 6)