The women’s tennis team picked up an important nonconference win by defeating City 6 rival Drexel University 4-3 on Wednesday.
With the close victory, the Owls (8-5, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) remained undefeated in home matches. Temple’s win against Drexel was only the Dragons’ second loss of the season, but coach Steve Mauro still wants to see improvement.
“I think overall we could have done a little bit better,” Mauro said. “And I think we’re going to need to play better in Tulsa this weekend.”
The duel began with important victories in doubles.
Juniors Yana Khon and Monet Stuckey-Willis, in the top doubles position for the first time this season, started the morning with a 6-2 victory. Junior Alina Abdurakhimova and senior Dina Karina followed with a 6-4 win to clinch the doubles point for Temple.
Seniors Anais Nussaume and Mariana Bedon were tied at five in their match when it was called early because Temple had already won the point in doubles.
“I know some of the girls have been really focused in practice to get their doubles games going,” Mauro said. “It’s a work in progress, they’re getting better, and I’m just happy to get a win against a good Drexel team.”
In singles, Abdurakhimova led off in the top position with a 6-2, 6-1 victory. Stuckey-Willis followed with a comeback victory 4-6, 6-0, 6-2.
“Both of them have been playing extremely well,” Mauro said. “Those two getting it started for us really helped a lot and they’re a big part of our team.
“Monet is playing some of her best tennis that she’s played since she’s been here at Temple and seems to be getting better and better,” Mauro added. “I knew it was going to be a close match but Monet was very tenacious and was really focused out there and that made the difference.”
The Owls then fell in three matches in a row, putting the fate of the match in jeopardy. Karina lost in tight match 7-6 (9), 6-7 (7), 6-3. Khon lost in the fourth position 6-3, 6-0. Finally Nussaume, despite winning the first set, fell by a score of 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (2).
But Bedon put the Owls back on track and sealed the victory at the end of the match by winning in the sixth position 6-4, 7-6 (7).
“I think the girls just really weren’t focused,” Mauro said. “It didn’t work out for them today but at least Mariana was there to really get a great win for us and notch the victory.”
The Owls resume conference on the road against Tulsa on Sunday.
“We need to work harder and be more focused out there,” Mauro said. “I think our mindset going into Tulsa is we have to play our very best in order to get the win so hopefully we’ll be up for the challenge.”
Graham Foley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @graham_foley3. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.