The men’s tennis team is young.
Of the eight players on the team, five are freshman, two are sophomores and only one has more than a full year of experience.
That one player is senior Kacper Rams, who is set to graduate in May. He will end his career as one of the most accomplished Temple tennis players in recent history, something coach Steve Mauro credits to Rams’ determination.
“The biggest thing with Kacper is his work ethic,” Mauro said. “Guys see how hard he works and it’s contagious. Hopefully, when we do replace him, they come in with the same work ethic.”
“I have always been very determined,” Rams said. “I’m the only senior so I need to push even harder than before this season.”
Rams, the captain of team, has his work cut out for him. Despite being so young, the team has high expectations. They were picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic 10 Conference this season, despite going 9–10 last season and losing five players from last season’s team.
“We’ve been working hard,” sophomore Hernan Vasconez said. “We’ve been getting together as a team. We’re doing well, and of course the expectation is to win the A-10.”
The Owls will not play the preseason favorites, Virginia Commonwealth University, in the regular season. They are, however, scheduled to play George Washington, the defending champion and the team that ended Temple’s season last year.
“GW and our team always have close matches,” Mauro said. “I expect another close match next time we play them. Last time, in the regular season, we actually beat them pretty easily. They beat us in the conference tournament, but a couple of my players were injured. We’re looking forward to playing them again.”
Rams was the player who sealed that victory last season, defeating then-senior Ugur Ataley 7–6 (5–0), 7–6 (5–0) to get the fourth point for the Owls.
“He’s always right there for us,” Vasconez said. “Cheering us on, letting us know what’s better. He’s the perfect captain.”
“Each year he’s gotten better and he’s doing a good job with his leadership,” Mauro said.
Rams said he knows that it won’t be easy to meet the team’s goals.
“We want to win,” Rams said. “I think we have some chances, but it’s going to be really tough.”
Rams said he hopes to be able to play professionally after graduating. He does not need to rely on tennis, however. Rams, a finance major, sports a 3.77 GPA and has been named to the Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Men’s Tennis Team for the past two years.
“I don’t know if I will be able to go pro,” Rams said. “I’ll try to do something with tennis and develop my career.”
“He has a very good doubles game,” Mauro said. “[Going pro is] realistic for doubles. Singles, there’s just so many good singles players that it will be very difficult. He’s already played in pro events, and he’s done pretty well. He’s already shown that he can play at that level in doubles.”
Rams has a 51–45 career record in singles, and a 65–29 record in doubles. He still has one semester left at Temple, and he said he plans to make the most of it – and so do his teammates.
“He’s the captain, and we want him to graduate with a good prize,” Vasconez said. “We want to win all of our matches and make our captain happy.”
Vasconez said he believes he is doing his part. He said that the fall season was “the best he’s ever had,” and he started the spring well, winning his first doubles match 8–1 and his first singles match 6–0 (6–0) against St. Francis (NY).
“My goal is always to have a positive result, to have more wins than losses,” Vasconez said.
Rams has not yet recorded a decision in the spring, as both of his matches against St. Francis were halted early. He is still hoping to leave Temple on a good note.
“I’m hoping for a good year,” Rams said. “The best in my career.”
Evan Cross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EvanCross.