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Hawaii men advance to title match


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POSTED: Sunday, April 26, 2009

As day turned into night, Sascha Heinemann seemed to get stronger. Whether it was digging deep into his soul or feeding off the energy from the crowd that circled the court, there was simply no way that Hawaii's senior leader was going to lose.

It took nearly 2 1/2 hours, but it was worth it. Heinemann's win at No. 4 singles proved the difference between the Warriors continuing on to defend their Western Athletic Conference men's tennis title and not.

With a methodical baseline game and gutsy determination, Heinemann wore down Fresno State's Remi Boutillier, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 for his 11th consecutive singles victory. It lifted the Warriors (9-9) past the Bulldogs 4-3 and into today's noon championship match with top-seeded Boise State at the UH tennis courts.

The Broncos (23-7), ranked 20th nationally, defeated third-seeded New Mexico State (13-11) earlier yesterday, 4-1.

“;I am so proud of our guys,”; Hawaii coach John Nelson said. “;I thought it would end up being determined on the last match. I thought it would be 4-3. ... I just didn't know which four (wins) we'd get. Sascha's performance was just gutsy. He was down love-40 twice in the third set and wouldn't give up.”;

It would have been easy. Heinemann and partner Craig Faulk dropped their doubles match with Taylor Leiby and Tejesvi Veerepali 9-8, another marathon that last 85 minutes.

“;I don't know how I did it,”; Heinemann said. “;I just knew I had to. I've been here four years and these are my last matches.”;

Yesterday's Hawaii-Fresno State semifinal was a rematch of last year's championship, won by the Warriors 4-2.

As happened a year ago in Las Cruces, N.M., the Bulldogs opened by taking the doubles point. Led by Dennis Lajola's emotional win at No. 1 singles, Hawaii battled back for a 3-2 lead.

Fresno State tied it up when Flavio Molinedo outlasted Warriors freshman Philipp Eberhard 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-2.

The pressure was on Heinemann, but “;he's our leader,”; Lajola said. “;It's big to win at home.”;

Women's championship

» Fresno State 4, Boise State 3: With tennis legend Billie Jean King watching the drama of the deciding singles match on Court 5, Fresno State extended its title run to eight straight.