Three Tennis Players Survive a Close Call at Home

Three UC Irvine tennis players survived a close call Saturday night when a faulty heater in their Newport Beach apartment leaked carbon monoxide.

Mark Kaplan, Richard Lubner and Mike Saunders were treated and released from area hospitals after feeling ill when they awakened Sunday morning. The players got up at 8 a.m. because they were supposed to participate in a clinic for high school coaches at Irvine.

That might have saved their lives.

“We all woke up with a dry cough and the same aches and pains in our lower back,” Lubner said. “We got up and drove over to the (Irvine) courts to tell Coach (Greg) Patton we were sick. Then we went to the (school’s) medical center.


“Mark sleeps closest to the heater and he felt the worst. I think he was the first to say he thought it might be some kind of gas.”

Medical center personnel called paramedics, and hospital blood tests revealed the carbon monoxide poisoning, which did not reach dangerously high levels.

“Sunday morning is a morning the boys usually sleep in,” Patton said. “Or if they had gone back to sleep because they felt sick . . . This might have been a horrible, horrible, devastating tragedy.”

Lubner said one of the paramedics told him they were indeed very fortunate: “He said it makes you very, very sleepy, and some guys don’t wake up.”

The gas company replaced the heating unit Wednesday, Lubner said, but the players have not been able to contact their landlord. “What’s done is done. . . . We don’t want to point fingers. We just want to get back to tennis,” he said.

Kaplan is the No. 7-ranked singles player in the country in the coaches’ preseason poll. Lubner is 32nd, and the doubles team of Kaplan and Lubner is 9th.