When Jean-Yves Aubone walked off the court June 29 after losing the final match of the USA F18 Futures tournament in Rochester, N.Y., he was not sure if he would have the opportunity to be in that position again.
A veteran of more than 70 futures-level competitions, Aubone, of Miami, had not won a tournament in almost six years. In fact, he had not even made the final of one since that most recent title.
So when he found himself in the final Sunday of the PNC Men's Futures tournament, Aubone took advantage of the opportunity. He bested Toby Martin of Great Britain in a hard-fought 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) victory at Mt. Lebanon Tennis Center.
"A lot of things have to go right for you to get to the final, and talking to my coach I said, 'I'm still disappointed,' " Aubone said about losing at Rochester. "Because you don't know when you're going to get a chance to play in the final again, no matter what level.
"So it's incredible after last week to be able to come back and have a week like this."
Through the first set of the match, it looked as if Martin -- who had not dropped a single set in play leading up to the final -- would have no trouble dispatching Aubone for his first career title.
Utilizing a heavy serve and a strong forehand, Martin quickly jumped to a five-game advantage, while an off-balance Aubone struggled to keep the ball in play.
"He was serving so well, so it was hard to even get in any kind of position on the second ball on his serve, and then I wasn't putting balls in play," Aubone said.
Aubone recovered in the second set, keeping Martin's serve and forehand in play and catching Martin off guard at times with an effective drop shot.
Tied at 5-5, a serving Aubone double-faulted up, 40-15, and looked at risk to give Martin an all-important break point. Instead, Aubone recovered to win the game and earned his first break point of the match in the next game to take the set.
"I didn't win the second set, I just put a few extra balls in play," Aubone said.
It seemed as though the third set was going to head the way of the first, with Martin earning two early break points and jumping to a 3-0 advantage.
But a frustrated and now very vocal Aubone -- who received a ball-abuse warning after losing a point -- was able to battle his way back and take the final set into a tiebreaker.
Serving for the win up, 7-6, in the tiebreaker, Aubone played a forehand that Martin returned long. As soon as the ball touched the clay, Aubone dropped his racquet and threw his hands over his face, the emotions fully taking over.
"It wasn't sweet, it wasn't easy; it was difficult," Aubone said. "I can't believe that I came out with the match to be honest."
Alex Nieves: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @alexdnieves5.