The match swung in ten seconds.
The doubles point had been lost. The first two singles matches to finish were losses. Freshman Santiago Canete grimly walked to the net to shake hands with his opponent, knowing that his teammates needed to win each of the four remaining matches to take the match.
As Canete walked to collect his bag, sophomore Kristian Marquart let out a roar of excitement. He had just clinched his win, and Temple’s first point of the day.
The two matches ended ten seconds apart. But that’s when momentum reversed and headed Temple’s way.
Temple defeated Atlantic 10 Conference rival St. Joseph’s 4-3 on Tuesday afternoon. The Owls improved to 6-10 (4-3 A-10), and the Hawks fell to 10-11 (3-3 A-10).
The match came down to the fifth flight singles match, which pitted freshman Hicham Belkssir against sophomore Max Montague. The match lasted two hours and fifty minutes, and ended in a third set tiebreaker. Belkssir triumphed 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 7-6 (7-5).
“It was really tough and I was a little bit nervous,” Belkssir said. “I was really nervous. Tonight, we got this game. We fought for it.”
“Hicham’s the man,” sophomore Hernan Vasconez said.
The match was played on Senior Day. Senior Kacper Rams was presented with a plaque by athletic director Bill Bradshaw before the match. Rams did not play due to a nerve injury.
“He was really happy and he was in the courts cheering us all,” Belkssir said. “He wanted to go out on his day with a win. It’s a great win for him. He will always remember it, since he was here for four years competing for Temple.”
Senior Day was originally scheduled for Saturday, but the match overlaps with the women’s A-10 tournament, so the ceremony was done today to make sure coach Steve Mauro was able to be there. Rams, the team captain, was named the third coach for the day in place of graduate assistant Andrey Morozov.
In other singles action, Marquart topped senior Alex Veronis 6-3, 6-4 in the top flight. In the second flight, sophomore Hernan Vasconez fell 6-2, 6-2 to junior Jose Sierra. Canete lost to sophomore Pierre Brondeau 6-4, 6-3 in flight three.
In flight four, freshman Nicolas Paulus topped senior Tommy Gates 4-6, 6-1, 6-0. Freshman Sam Rundle triumphed 6-2, 6-4 against graduate student Jeff Kessler in the sixth flight.
“Everyone fought pretty well,” Belkssir said. “Unfortunately, Santi lost his match. He could have won.”
Marquart and Rundle fell to Montague and Sierra 8-6 in the first singles flight. In the second flight, Belkssir and Vasconez lost 8-5 to Kessler and junior Dan Barrus. The third flight match was halted early. Canete and Paulus were tied 8-8 with Brondeau and Veronis at the time.
The Owls are next in action on Saturday, April 20 at 12 p.m. at the Student Pavilion against UMBC.
Evan Cross can be reached at evan.cross@.edu or on Twitter @EvanCross.