During Temple’s match against Georgetown University on March 18, Uladzimir Dorash went up for a serve, heard a sound and immediately felt pain.
The junior has been fighting an upper back injury since the start of the season. Dorash initially suffered the injury in Temple’s first match, a 6-1 win against Morgan State University on Jan. 19.
After Dorash re-injured his back in a doubles match against Georgetown, he and his doubles partner sophomore Francisco Bohorquez had to concede to Hoyas freshman Connor Lee and junior Michael Chen. Temple (10-7, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) lost the doubles point, and Georgetown (5-5, 1-0 Big East Conference) beat the Owls, 4-3, on March 17.
Before playing against Georgetown, Dorash said he had his shoulder and back taped. He warmed up for an hour and practiced serving with no issues, he said.
“This whole season has been rough,” Dorash said. “I was on and off playing. I used some ibuprofen before matches. I was never really playing at 100 percent. Once it felt like I recovered, something happened again.”
Dorash has missed seven matches due to the injury and has not played since the Georgetown match. After Temple’s season-opener, Dorash missed the next two matches against the University of Virginia and St. Francis College. Dorash also missed Temple’s 6-1 win against Binghamton University on Feb. 24.
Dorash said he wants to be on the court with his teammates, especially toward the end of his second-to-last season.
“I personally like playing outdoors more than indoors,” Dorash said. “Coming closer to the end, it’s getting more exciting. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get ready for the conference tournament.”
This season, Dorash is 3-5 in singles play and 2-5 in doubles play with two partners, Bohorquez and sophomore Eric Biscoveanu.
Last season, Dorash and Bohorquez had a 13-3 record as partners. Bohorquez said Dorash’s injury has been hard on him because the two have developed chemistry during the past two seasons.
“We’re used to playing each other,” Bohorquez said. “It definitely affects you. You have to play with another player you’re not really used to. You have to get used to him. It’s hard to play doubles now without [Dorash].”
Coach Steve Mauro said not having Dorash in the lineup is a big loss.
“He’s a great doubles player and singles player,” Mauro said. “We’re hoping somehow we can get him back towards the end of the season. He’s a real intricate part of our team.”
One of the more significant matches Dorash missed is the Owls’ matchup against Virginia (11-7, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) on Jan. 21. The Owls lost to the Cavaliers, 4-3. The Cavaliers are the defending Division I champions and entered the match ranked No. 12 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll.
Dorash said he could have made a difference in the match if he had played, considering how close it was.
“This year, Virginia got a little weaker and we had a very, very close match with them,” Dorash said. “That was right after I got injured. It’s very difficult to get a match like this, against a team this strong. I didn’t even travel. I felt like if I had traveled, we would get a doubles point or I would get a singles point.”
Mauro said he has tried different singles and doubles lineups due to injuries to Dorash and sophomore Juan Araoz.
Araoz returned to the court on Saturday after missing three matches with a wrist injury. As a result of Araoz’s absence, Bohorquez and freshman Mark Wallner, Araoz’s doubles partner, played doubles together for two of the Owls’ three matches. Bohorquez and Wallner are 1-1 as doubles partners.
Mauro said the team needs to be healthy if it wants to make a run in the American Athletic Conference tournament from April 19-22 in Dallas.
“We feel this is the best team we’ve had at Temple in years,” Mauro said. “It’s unfortunate with all of these injuries and illnesses, but we’re going to do our best to keep fighting and try to compete for a title in the conference tournament.”