The men’s tennis team finished 0-2 in its two matches at Penn. The Owls lost its first match to the Quakers 5-0 and lost its second match to Georgetown 4-2.
In the first match, Penn handled the Owls in all facets of the game, leading to unforced errors that put the Owls behind in the match. The No. 61-ranked Quakers led from the beginning and never looked back.
From the beginning the Owls were outmatched as many of its opponents confidently hit winners. Penn won each match easily in straight sets.
“All of the [Penn] guys were pumped up and confident,” junior Santiago Canete said. “It was a hard match to win and I felt that we competed hard even though we didn’t come out on top. We are not used to this level of competition and it is hard to compete against these top-level opponents … you get surprised by [the high-level competition].”
Junior Hicham Belkssir said unforced errors really hurt the team and added that in order to limit those errors, they must continue to stay focused and work on returning aggressively.
Canete said being outmatched talent-wise has led to the players changing their games around.
“When your opponent is much better than you, sometimes you have to force balls,” Canete said. “Forcing balls means that you make quite a bit of unforced errors and as a team we struggled with making mistakes. You have to be aggressive against these types of players, because if you lay back he will hit winners on you throughout the match.”
In the second match the Owls played Georgetown and lost a close match 4-2. A lot of trash talk between the teams resulted in the referees getting involved and the consequence was a lost game for the Owls in Canete’s close match.
A couple of obscenities from Canete led to a warning from the referee and another obscenity took a game right out of his hands.
In a close second set, Canete was called for a code violation when leading the game with a score of 40-30 and then was called for a second code violation giving the Georgetown player the game, which put Canete down 5-3 after the violation.
In both matches the Owls struggled to win the important tiebreakers, especially in the Georgetown match where they lost all three of them.
“The tiebreakers didn’t go our way in the Georgetown match,” coach Steve Mauro said. “There were a lot of different variables and then officials got involved. You never know, one day the tiebreakers go your way the next day they don’t, that is just how tennis goes.”
The Owls won their only two points of the day in singles. Junior Nicolas Paulus (6-2, 6-4) and sophomore Filip Stipcic 7-6(7), 6-4 won their matches in straight sets.
“What we can take from these matches is that we fought hard,” Mauro said. “These were just regular season matches and we have a lot of more matches to play … there was a lot of good tennis played today.”
Temple will have an two-day layoff before taking on Lehigh on March 24.
On the women’s side …
The women’s tennis team traveled nearly 1,000 miles to play its last two road matches of the season. In the first match of the trip, the Owls fell to conference opponent Central Florida, 6-1.
The Owls were controlled by UCF as they have been in all conference matches this season, where they are currently winless.
Despite the team struggles, freshman Alina Abdurakhimova continues her dominant play at the first flight singles, recording her 11th straight set victory of the season with a score of 6-4, 7-6(6). With that win, Abdurakhimova’s record in singles is 11-2, just one win ahead of fellow freshman Yana Khon.
The Owls have played two other conference matches this season, all on the road. They lost to Cincinnati (6-1) and East Carolina (4-1). In the squad’s conference matches this season, they have managed three points.
On March 28, the Owls will play their only conference home match of the season against Connecticut and hope to get their first conference win of the season.
The Owls will finish its Florida trip Sunday against Rollins College at 10:30 a.m.