USF women’s tennis player Gabriela Duch had to contend with much more besides her opponent in Saturday’s loss to No. 66 FAU in Boca Raton.
“It was not a fun day,” USF coach Gigi Fernandez said.
With the even tie 2-2 and No. 1 player Duch in the middle of her match, an altercation between a few famous faces and the opposing coach erupted off the court. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ kicker Martin Gramatica and his brother Bill, who kicks for the Arizona Cardinals, were involved in an argument after a line call in Duch’s match.
Martin, who is engaged to assistant coach Ashlee Callahan, and Bill, a former place kicker for the Bulls, were at the match supporting USF when the quarrel took place. According to Fernandez, the incident started when the two brothers made a comment about a line call. Fernandez said the statement was not directed at Duch’s opponent, Alena Dvorakova, but Dvorakova didn’t think so and responded. Once Dvorakova, Martin and Bill started exchanging words, FAU coach Alex Alcantara entered the scene from three courts away and yelled at Martin, who shouted back, Fernandez said.
“It got a bit ugly between the Gramatica brothers and the coach,” Fernandez said.
Once the incident had blown over, the match continued. Shortly after the confrontation, however, more distraction took place when three police officers came to the tennis courts and asked the brothers to leave.
“Everyone overreacted,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez and Callahan approached the officers to protest the ejection and were successful. Both Martin and Bill were allowed to stay and watch the rest of the match.
“When (the officers) realized who they were, they let them stay,” Fernandez said.
As for the match, Duch kept the sets close but ultimately lost 3-6, 7-6, 6-2. The Bulls were narrowly defeated 5-2 by FAU and the four and a half hour match tested the Owls, who were forced to a third set in all four of their winning matches.
“We had all kinds of chances,” Fernandez said. “We should have never lost that match.”
The Bulls dropped the doubles point 9-7, 8-6, but charged back during singles play where they picked up wins at the No. 5 and No. 6 spots to go up 2-1. Both No. 5 Luisa Obando and No.6 Gina Craig defeated their opponents in only two sets.
USF’s luck ran out after going up 2-1, however, when it was defeated by FAU in the last four matches. The Bulls did not slip away softly though; the No.1 through No. 4 spots all forced FAU to a third set including No. 3 Patricia Kolendo, who forced a tiebreaker that she lost 10-3. Fernandez, nonetheless, was not impressed with the performance Saturday.
“This has probably been as mad as I have been since I have been here,” Fernandez said.