USF men’s tennis’ four-year reign as champion of the American Athletic Conference came to an end in Sunday’s AAC title match in Dallas, dropping a down-to-the-wire 4-3 decision to Tulane.
Here's the winning point for @GreenWaveMTenn, who battled all the way back through singles action to win the @American_Tenn Men's Championship and punch its ticket to the NCAA Championship! pic.twitter.com/Hug5gamg9S— The American (@American_Conf) April 22, 2018
The Bulls jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the Green Wave when Peter Bertran/Jacob Wojick defeated Luis Erlenbusch/Tim Ruetzel (6-2) and Pierre Luquet/Sean Burnette defeated Tyler Schick/Hamish Stewart (6-4) to claim the doubles point.
However, Tulane would race out to a 3-1 lead in singles action as Constantin Schmitz took down Alberto Barroso-Campos on court 1 (6-4, 6-3), Stewart defeated Grayson Goldin on court 3 (6-3, 6-3), and Erlenbusch took out Luquet on court 4 (6-1, 6-4).
Pushed to the brink, the Bulls battled back to even things up with a straight set victory from Wojcik over Schick (7-6, 6-3) and a Bertan triumph over Ewan Moore (6-4, 3-6, 6-2).
That set up a dramatic battle on court 6 between Sean “Ice Cold” Burnette and Ruetzel. The Wesley Chapel native took the first set, 6-3, before dropping the second, 6-7.
In a tightly contested third and final set, the German born Ruetzel emerged victorious 7-5 to clinch Tulane’s first American Athletic Conference title in any sport.
“Just an incredible college tennis match with two teams leaving it all out there,” said USF head coach Ashley Fisher afterwards.
“I was so proud of the way our Bulls came together the last few weeks and the fight and grit they showed this week is inspiring. Congratulations to Tulane and their coaching staff on an amazing season and they really came up with some high-level tennis (Sunday). We will take so many positives from (Sunday) and use this week’s experience to become a better team.”
A trip to a fifth-straight AAC title game seemed to be in doubt for the Bulls, who went 8-15 through the regular season.
But close 4-3 victories over Wichita State and Memphis in the conference put them in a position to nearly hoist the AAC crown for a fifth-consecutive year.
The Bulls will only lose seniors Bertran, Goldin, and Justin Roberts with the rest of the roster poised to return and reclaim the American throne next spring.