Temple suffered its first conference loss of the season on the road Sunday.
The Owls (8-6, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) lost to Tulsa 5-2.
Coach Steve Mauro said that Tulsa is great team and may be the best in the conference. However, the weather also may have played a major role in deciding the match. Temple practices and usually plays matches indoors, but Sunday’s match at Tulsa was outdoors and on a windy day.
“I hate to blame it on the weather, but we’re just really not used to playing outside, and I think it affected the match,” Mauro said. “It was very windy and it was just really hard for the girls to keep balls in play.”
“At the end of the day I think I’d love to play them again with some more time to practice outside,” he added.
Juniors Yana Khon and Monet Stuckey-Willis lost 6-1 in their second straight week as the top doubles combination.
Seniors Anais Nussaume and Mariana Bedon, usually the third-positioned duo, followed with a 6-2 loss in the second spot. Finally, junior Alina Abdurakhimova and senior Dina Karina, the typical top-positioned doubles group lost 6-3.
Mauro said the team made “too many errors” in doubles and he also would like to see them be more aggressive at the net. He added that each doubles team consists of one strong net player and he is working on getting the net players to show more dominance.
Mauro also said he will continue to experiment with the doubles lineup and it may change even more when graduate student Galina Chernykh returns from injury.
In singles, Abdurakhimova lost in the top position 6-3, 6-2. Abdurakhimova is usually a consistent winner in the top flight for Temple but Mauro said the she had a tough time adjusting to the weather.
“Alina didn’t play her best tennis,” Mauro said. “She was really struggling with the serve in the wind and we’re going to work on it when we practice outside. But I know on any other day if we’re able to play them again, I think Alina would definitely win her match.”
In the second position, Monet Stuckey-Willis put the Owls on the scoreboard with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory, continuing her recent trend of singles wins.
“Monet’s been playing great tennis,” Mauro said. “Tulsa is one of the top teams in our conference and Monet proved that she can play with anyone so it was great for her to get a win.”
The Owls went on to lose three straight in singles, conceding the match.
Karina lost in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. Khon, after a close first set, was shut out in the second set losing 6-4, 6-0. Nussamue lost 6-0, 6-1.
In the final position, Bedon delivered a victory for Temple winning her match in comeback fashion 3-6, 6-2,10-6. The team’s decided to do a tiebreaker instead of a full third set with the first player to reach ten points winning the match.
The loss is a setback for the Owls who had won three of their last four matches. But Mauro believes the team will learn from the loss against a tough team and only get better.
“Tulsa is probably the top team in our conference and one of the best teams in the United States,” Maruo said. “But we know we can play with them, it’s just a matter of working hard. Hopefully we can keep working at it in practice and achieve that goal by the end of the year.”
Graham Foley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow The Temple News on Twitter @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.