After compiling a record of 8–12 at the first annual Penn Invitational, coach Steve Mauro said he knows what he wants the men’s tennis team to work on for the next few weeks.
“We need to be little bit more steady from the baseline,” Mauro said. “The other thing that I want us to work on is [volleying]. We need to get better at closing points up at the net. So that’s something that our team needs to work on.”
The team went 7–9 in singles matches, and 1–3 in doubles matches. No player reached further than the second round in the main draw, and only sophomore Kristian Marquart won more than one game in the tournament.
The Penn Invitational is a back draw tournament, meaning that all student-athletes are put into a 128-player bracket. Most fall tournaments are set up this way. Fall tournaments count toward the individual player’s record, but not the team’s record.
In freshman Maros Januvka’s first tournament for Temple, he got his first singles victory in the consolation bracket on Sept. 29, defeating St. Francis’ freshman Kevin Pijper 6–3, 7–5.
“We were happy that [Januvka] got his first college win,” Mauro said.
Freshman Hicham Belkssir also got his first singles win as a college player on Sept. 30, beating Peter Pello of Norfolk State 7–5, 7–5 in an exhibition match. Belkssir said that he is still getting used to the standard American court type.
“We’re not used to hard courts, me and my new teammates,” Belkssir said, referring to freshman Nicolas Paulus and Januvka. “Now we’re getting used to it. We’re doing better. We’re improving.”
Belkssir played on an injured right ankle on Sept. 30, but he said he doesn’t think that it will hamper him for much longer.
Marquart also battled an injury at the tournament. He sustained a right upper arm injury during his second match on Sept. 29, but defeated St. Francis’ sophomore Sergio Carvajai 7–5, 6–1. He fell to Ivan Kravtchenko of Brown 6–2, 6–7, 7–5 on Sept. 30.
Marquart said treatment from the team’s trainer helped him play through the injury.
“After the [treatment], it was a lot better,” Marquart said.
The match against Kravtchenko became intense when the players disagreed on a few boundary calls. Usually, officials cannot watch every match at large tournaments, such as the Penn Invitational, so the players often have to make their own calls.
Marquart said he wasn’t bothered by the disagreements or the lack of officials.
“In my opinion, sometimes the referees don’t even see better than the players,” Marquart said. “It might help, but it might go the other way around as well. You have to live with it as a college tennis player.”
Mauro said that kind of excitement can help his team when it plays against rivals in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“Our matches, especially our A-10 conference matches, they get a little heated,” Mauro said. “I think overall, it’ll get them ready for the upcoming season.”
The match against Kravtchenko lasted more than two hours. Marquart said that he has been steadily improving his stamina.
“A few months ago, I wouldn’t be able to play this match because I just was not in shape,” Marquart said. “We are practicing well, everyone is in good shape. We’re getting better, much better.”
Last weekend saw the debut of three new doubles teams: senior Kacper Rams and Marquart, Belkssir and Januvka and Paulus and sophomore HernanVasconez.
The pair of Paulus and Vasconez was the only one to win a match this past weekend, defeating sophomore Lawson Barter and Pijper of St. Francis, Pa., 8–5 on Sept. 28. Vasconez said he is happy with how they performed in their first match together.
“It went pretty good,” Vasconez said. “It’s the first time we played together in an actual tournament. We beat them pretty easily.”
Rams and Marquart lost 8–4 to Buffalo freshman Damien David and freshman Ivan Vereschchaga. Marquart said that they were playing very well together before losing the last four points.
“It went well. We played against a very good team,” Marquart said. “Doubles is just one set to eight; usually one or two points can decide the whole match. Until 4–4, it went great. But then, they broke us, and then it went really fast.”
When asked about his goals for the season, Vasconez said what all the other players have preached so far this season.
“The goal is always to win the conference,” Vasconez said. “And we’re working for that. As a team, for sure.”
Evan Cross can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @EvanCross.