Last season, Mark Wallner and Alberto Caceres Casas played only one doubles match together.
Now, the Temple University pair is undefeated and nationally ranked.
Building chemistry early in the fall and having complimentary play styles have helped Wallner and Caceres Casas in the spring season 5-0 and earn the No. 20 ranking on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s list of the top-60 doubles pairings.
The sophomore and senior’s success will play an important role in Temple’s pursuit of the American Athletic Conference championship, coach Steve Mauro said. But the pair of right-handers may have not been together if it weren’t for players graduating and sustaining injuries last season.
Wallner and Caceres Casas were doubles partners in a match last March against Drexel because the Owls were without three starters, and they showed chemistry when they won that match last season, Mauro said.
After Caceres Casas’ usual doubles partner, Thomas Sevel, graduated in Spring 2018. Sevel and Caceres Casas’ totaled a 16-8 record together last season.
Mauro believed Caceres Casas and Wallner would be successful together this season.
“[Caceres Casas] possesses a very strong serve and [Wallner] has been real good up at the net,” Mauro said. “[Wallner] is tall and covers a lot of ground up at the net.”
Wallner feels comfortable playing alongside an offensive-minded partner like Caceres Casas. Each player complements the other well during matches because Caceres Casas likes to play on the backhand while Wallner prefers the forehand, Caceres Casas said.
Last season, both players had success in doubles. Caceres Casas finished with a 19-9 doubles record while Wallner was 15-11 overall in doubles.
“On the court, it is really important to understand each other,” Wallner said. “You know where the other person goes and how he hits the next shot. We move and how we change positions during the point and chemistry is really good between us because we are really good friends.”
Wallner and Caceres Casas find time to hang out between school and tennis, which helps their chemistry on the court.
Having success in doubles is necessary for the Owls to compete with good teams this season, Mauro said. Temple (3-3) has secured the doubles point in each match this season during Wallner and Caceres Casas’ successful start.
“Compared with last year. I think [winning the doubles point] is the biggest change,” Caceres Casas said. “If we keep doing that this year it is going to help for sure in the future. The doubles point is really, really important to us.”
Temple went 1-2 during conference play last season. The Owls have made The American’s postseason tournament every year, but have never ranked higher than No. 6.
Two matches remain before Temple begins conference play against Memphis on March 5.
“We are winning all the doubles matches and if we are winning all the doubles matches we have a higher chance of winning as a team,” Wallner said. “One thing leads to another basically, but overall team success is the most important thing.”