The Owls had a tough start to their season, dropping their first match 6-1 against Old Dominion University on Saturday in Norfolk, Virginia.
Old Dominion took all three doubles matches from the Owls and won five of the six singles matches. Two of the Owls’ losses were in three sets.
“I thought we played well for the first match of the year,” Mauro said. “[Old Dominion is] a very strong team but I think if we were healthy and had another week of practice under our belt, I think the outcome might have been different.”
Graduate student Galina Chernykh, a transfer from the University of Rhode Island, made her Temple debut in the in the No. 1 singles spot despite sustaining a foot injury in practice last week.
Mauro said Chernykh decided to play through the injury after the swelling diminished. She had to play against junior Borislava Botusharova, who is ranked sixth in singles in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Atlantic Regional Rankings and won the match 6-1, 6-0.
“She did her best and she is a great player,” Mauro said. “It just wasn’t her day with the injury and playing against a very strong opponent.”
Junior Yana Khon picked up Temple’s lone victory in the match. In the No. 5 spot, Khon defeated Old Dominion sophomore Natalya Malenko 6-3, 0-6, 6-4.
“She was steady and determined and played with a lot of grit,” Mauro said of Khon. “She worked harder than the other girl and just grinded out the match so I was very happy with her performance against a strong opponent.”
In doubles, Chernykh and senior Dina Karina could not finish their match. Old Dominion led 4-3 when the match stopped. Seniors Anais Nussaume and Mariana Bedon lost 6-3, and Khon and junior Alina Abdurakhimova lost their match 6-2.
Mauro is unsure if the doubles combinations from Saturday’s match will remain the same as the season continues. He said was impressed by the play of Nussaume and Bedon and anticipates adding junior Monet Stuckey-Willis into the doubles rotation as she recovers from an injury.
“It’s so early in the season, we’re trying to figure out…I think when everyone is healthy we might change the lineup a little bit in doubles,” Mauro said.
The team had Old Dominion circled on its calendar as a difficult away match against a team that played six Top 50 opponents last year, and Mauro was pleased with his players’ effort.
“It’s a long season,” Mauro said. “The girls weren’t down about it and we just look forward to our next competition… We have a very strong team, we just need a couple more matches under our belt.”
Graham Foley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @graham_foley3. Follow The Temple News on Twitter @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.