Sports

Mauro’s group finishing strong, wins sixth straight

After losing four of six, the Owls have won six straight matches.

As the men’s tennis team approach its final match of the regular season, it’s on a six-match winning streak.

Last weekend, Temple improved its record to 19-5 with shutout victories against Hampton University and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Temple is 11-0 at home this season—the team’s most home wins since winning nine during the 2010-11 season.

“We had a couple tough matches previously to this winning streak,” senior Nicolas Paulus said. “When you have tough matches and you learn from them you’re going to get better after those matches. And I think even those matches previously to the streak helped us get tougher and better.”

Before the Owls’ six-match winning streak, they lost four of their previous six matches, which were all against ranked opponents.

The Owls fell by a combined score of 27-1 against Southern Methodist, Abilene Christian University, Penn State and Memphis.

Their lone point came off freshman Artem Kapshuk’s 6-4, 6-4 win against Abilene Christian senior Jason Proctor.

“Those teams we played, they were pretty good,” freshman Uladzimir Dorash said. “They were high ranked, they were not unbeatable teams but we all have to perform on our highest level to beat them.”

After losing to Memphis 7-0,  Temple responded with three straight shutout victories.

The Owls won every singles match in straight sets against the University of Arkansas at Pine-Bluff to start their now-six-match winning streak.

Later, the Owls pulled off two 7-0 wins in a doubleheader against Philadelphia University and Coppin State University.

The freshman duo of Florian Mayer and Dorash captured two wins during the doubleheader. They also won their match against Duquesne University on April 2 by defeating sophomore Adam Blasinsky and freshman Chris Corrao, 6-3.

Coach Steve Mauro said the team’s doubles success is due to its new techniques learned on the practice court.

“We don’t like to get into long rallies,” Mauro said. “So we try to get the guys to, once the point starts, to try to get up to the net and finish it. So we don’t want to keep the ball going back-and-forth, back-and-forth. We feel like that’s not our game. We do certain drills to incorporate them, finishing the point early.”

Mayer and Dorash lead the Owls with the best doubles record on the team at 15-3. Following the duo in wins are senior Hichman Belkssir and junior Vineet Naran with 11.

Belkssir, Mayer and Dorash are the only Owls to record 10-or-more wins in the singles and doubles department this season.

Temple also has five players who have recorded 15-or-more singles wins this year—the Owls’ most since the 2010-11 season.

Dorash and Kapshuk lead the way for the Owls with 19 wins a piece. Paulus and senior Santiago Canete have captured 16 and 15 victories this year. Belkssir has also racked up 16 wins.

“We’ve played a lot of good teams this year,” Mauro said. “So in order to get that many wins, I’m really happy with the guys. It’s probably one of the most talented teams that I’ve had since I’ve been here.”

With the shutout victories against Hampton and Farleigh Dickinson, the Owls have 11 shutout wins this season.

The Owls will finish their season on Wednesday against Drexel University at the TU Pavilion.

“It feels really comfortable because that’s where you practice so you don’t need adjustments,” Paulus said. “There’s not really much to change you just do what you do in practice and it’s easier to do it at home because you’re used to this environment. … It’s a nice experience having those last matches at home, especially as a senior.”

Tom Ignudo can be reached at thomas.ignudo@temple.edu or on Twitter @Ignudo5.

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