Injuries force young players to step up

With ace Dina Senkina out, players like Josephine Bergman have taken on larger roles. The Owls are off to a 6-4 start.

It’s been an interesting ride for the women’s tennis team so far this season.

Due to injuries, the Owls have mixed and matched their lineup, especially after losing the 2008 Atlantic Ten Player of the Year in Dina Senkina. Coach Steve Mauro’s lineup switches have kept the team sharp and opposing teams honest.

With that, Temple has compiled a 6-4 record, despite a 4-3 loss to Dartmouth Sunday.

“The first half of the season, we did a lot of experimenting with different lineups because we were dealing with injuries,” Mauro said.

The Owls have handily beaten teams, relying on depth in their roster, and most recently defeated St. Francis and city rival Penn last Friday and Saturday respectively.

Temple didn’t close out its win against Penn until the back end of the rotation, fifth and sixth singles, stepped on the court. Anchoring the Owls were senior Felicia Frazier (4-5 singles record) and junior Christine Clermont.

Clermont is one of the team’s members who Mauro said has furthered her game.

“A couple of players are starting that hardly played in the fall and have stepped up for us,” Mauro said. “Their games have improved dramatically.”

Saturday also marked the return of No. 1 singles player junior Elyse Steiner. Steiner has had a rough time this year, as she currently has a 1-5 record. Mauro said that eventually Steiner’s return will bring stability to the team’s lineup and make everyone else better. A bright spot for Steiner has been her doubles play with Clermont. Together they have made an impressive combination, winning their last three matches by a combined 24-8 set margin.

In their match against St. Francis, the Owls won convincingly with a sweep. Anchoring the wins were more of Temple’s inexperienced players from the fall—singles players sophomore Josephine Bergman (6-2 singles match record), junior Anastasiia Rukavyshnykova (7-3 singles match record) and Clermont all with 6-0, 6-0 scores.

Other bright spots were sophomore Stephany Almonsa and junior Monique Peterson, who won their first collegiate matches. No. 1 doubles pair, sophomores Lucie Pazderova and Theresa Stangl, won and improved to 6-3 in doubles play.

The Owls, winners of six of their last eight, have only the sour loss to Old Dominion that interrupts what is otherwise an impressive winning streak since the start of the season. Sandwiching that loss were what Mauro considers impressive wins, especially over a competitive Army team.

“Army wins their conference every year and have some really tough players, and we handled them pretty easily,” the Owls’ first-year coach said.

But even with all that, the focus will always remain in conference.

“A-10 matches are the most important matches,” Mauro said. “Richmond is probably our biggest challenge. We lost at home to them, but we didn’t have our full lineup. Once we get healthy for A-10s, we look forward to playing them again.”

Eric Pellini can be reached at

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