Temple lost to South Florida, 4-0, on Wednesday in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament.
The Owls (11-13, 1-4 the American) are eliminated from The American’s postseason tournament and have concluded their season. The Bulls, the No. 7 seed in the tournament, advance to face No. 2 Tulane on Thursday in Orlando, Florida.
“Unfortunately it didn’t go our way,” coach Steve Mauro said. “I have to give credit to [South Florida]. They were at full strength and played well. My hat’s off to them.”
In conference tournament doubles play, all three matches are played simultaneously on separate courts. When two matches are won by one team, the point is award and the remaining match is called.
Juniors Yana Khon and Alina Abdurakhimova faced off against South Florida’s top-ranked doubles duo and fell 6-4. Junior Monet Stuckey-Willis and senior Mariana Bedon lost in the third flight 6-2.
Seniors Dina Karina and Anais Nussaume did not finish their match because South Florida had won the point.
“In doubles, the matches were close on courts one and two,” Mauro said. “But we just lost momentum not winning the doubles point.”
Singles matches are played similarly to doubles. All six matches are played concurrently on separate courts. As soon as one team wins enough matches to get four total points and clinch the match, the remaining matches are called.
The first match to finish was the fourth flight battle between Bedon and South Florida sophomore Nicole Dzenga. Bedon lost, 6-1, 6-0. Graduate student Galina Chernykh was next to finish, falling in the third position, 6-1, 6-2.
In the fifth position, Karina lost 6-0, 6-3, clinching the match for South Florida. Abdurakhimova won the first set in her top-flight match, but it was called for time. Bedon’s match remained unfinished in the sixth flight.
Stuckey-Willis was tied in the second set, but also did not finish her match out of the second flight. She returned to the court after sustaining a shoulder injury last week in practice.
“Monet was playing well against a very good opponent,” Mauro said. “She got her confidence and got her timing so that was very good to see.”
Mauro said the loss was disappointing, especially for graduating players like Bedon, Karina, Nussaume and Chernykh. He said the team felt it could have won the match and it was a tough way to end the seniors’ careers at Temple.
“I told the girls it was unfortunate because on another day we could have gotten them,” Mauro said. “But they’ve had a great career here at Temple, and I’m proud of all four seniors. I’m sure they’re gonna do great things in the future.”
He added Temple is used to playing on indoor surfaces during the winter months while South Florida is used to playing on outdoor courts. Mauro said indoor surfaces are faster and his team is used to hitting quick, winning shots instead of working to contest slower ones.
“That’s definitely an advantage they had as opposed to us,” Mauro said. “I think if it was played indoors we win the match. But I still give [South Florida] credit, they’re a good team and I think they will go far in the tournament.”
Graham Foley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @graham_foley3. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.