Temple suffered back-to-back losses to Miami University and American Athletic Conference rival Cincinnati in a weekend road trip to Ohio.
The Owls (9-11, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) fell 4-3 to Miami on Friday. On Saturday, Temple lost to Cincinnati by a final score of 4-1. The team has now lost four straight matches.
Despite Temple’s recent skid, coach Steve Mauro said he was pleased with the team’s play overall.
“I thought we played well, we were really close with both teams,” Mauro said. “I feel that doubles was the difference, we didn’t get that point. But I was really happy with the effort the girls put in this weekend.”
Against Miami, the Owls used different doubles combinations and started with a victory in the first match before losing the next two.
The all-Uzbekistani combination of juniors Alina Abdurakhimova and Yana Khon defeated Miami 6-1. Seniors Anais Nussaume and Dina Karina lost 7-6 (8-6) to even the doubles score. Finally, junior Monet Stuckey-Willis and senior Mariana Bedon lost 6-2.
In singles, Abdurakhimova evened the score with a stamina-testing victory in the first position, 7-5, 7-6 (7-2). Mauro said after the weekend that Abdurakhimova, who holds a 9-4 record this year in the first position, will hold the top spot for the rest of the season.
Mauro added that graduate student Galina Chernykh and Stuckey-Willis will compete for the second spot as the season continues.
Stuckey-Willis lost a back-and-forth battle in the second position 7-6 (10-8), 6-4. Chernykh played in the third position for the first time since coming back from injury. She lost by a score of 6-2, 6-0.
Despite the loss, Mauro said he was excited to have her back for two road matches. She is still recovering from her Achilles tendon injury in January that kept her off the court for more than two months.
“It’s going to take her a little bit to get her timing back,” Mauro said. “But she’s progressing and working hard. She’s a real fighter on the court.”
Mauro said he feels Chernykh will “definitely” be back to her normal playing shape before the conference tournament begins on April 19.
In the fourth flight, Karina lost 6-2, 7-6 (7-6) to Miami sophomore Emily Struble to solidify the Owls’ loss. Bedon then won in the fifth position 6-0, 6-2 and Khon won in the sixth position 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to finish the match.
Against Cincinnati, the Owls won one doubles match but couldn’t win the point. Abdurakhimova and Khon lost 7-5 in the top flight. Stuckey-Willis and Bedon evened the score with a 7-5 victory in the second spot. Finally, Karina and Nussaume fell 7-5 in the third position to give the Bearcats the doubles point.
In singles, Temple’s struggles continued. Khon’s 6-3, 6-0 win in the sixth position gave the Owls their only singles point of the day. Stuckey-Willis lost 6-4, 6-3 in the second position. Bedon lost a close one in the fourth position 6-2, 7-6 (8-6). Finally, Karina lost 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 in the fifth flight.
Two singles matches did not finish because the match was already decided. Abdurakhimova was down 5-7, 6-3, 1-3 when her match was called. Chernykh’s match was tied 2-6, 6-6 (4-2) when it ended.
Temple won three of its four matches from Feb. 18 to March 1. Since then, the Owls are 1-6. With three non-conference matches ahead of the Owls before the conference tournament, it is an important time for the team to be on the same page.
“I think the team really bonded, the girls were really pulling for one another,” Mauro said of the trip of Ohio. “The spirits are actually quite high and I think this is the closest the team has been as a group. We’re very optimistic now that we’re starting to get healthy again so in the next few matches, we’ll do well.”
Graham Foley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @graham_foley3. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.