Owls break four-match skid with win against Rider University

Temple beat the Broncs 7-0 at home on Sunday to break its four-match losing streak.

Temple dominated Rider University on Sunday for a 7-0 victory at the Student Pavilion.

The Owls (10-11, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) won every match against the Broncs in both singles and doubles en route to the shutout. The win halts a four-match losing skid dating back to March 25.

“It was good to get a win and get back on the winning track,” coach Steve Mauro said. “I’m happy for them, and we were happy to play outside again. I’m proud of the girls.”

Juniors Alina Abdurakhimova and Yana Khon started the match by taking down Rider’s top combination of freshman Cyd Melendez and sophomore Vanessa Canda 6-2.

Junior Monet Stuckey-Willis and senior Mariana Bedon followed with a 6-3 win in the second spot. Finally, the new combination of senior Anais Nussaume and graduate student Galina Chernykh finished with a 6-0 victory in the third flight.

“We may keep them together for the next couple matches,” Mauro said. “They won pretty easily, and I think Galina and Anais really compliment one another. Hopefully, they can continue to do that.”

In singles, Abdurakhimova led off with a 6-1, 6-2 victory in the top flight. Stuckey-Willis followed with a 6-2, 6-1 win in the second position. In the third spot, Chernykh won the Owls’ only shutout singles match of the day.

Mauro said Chernykh has greatly improved since returning from an Achilles tendon injury on March 16 against the University of Delaware and is close to her normal shape on the court.

“She’s a big part of our team, so we need her come conference time,” Mauro said. “But she’s not feeling any pain from her injury, so we’re very happy about that.”

Mauro plans to keep the singles order the same for the team’s next two matches. He said that Chernykh, who played in the top flight in her first match against Old Dominion University on Jan. 14, could move up a flight if she continues her solid play.

In the fourth flight, Bedon won by a score of 6-2, 6-0. Nussaume matched her in the fifth flight with another 6-2, 6-0 victory. Freshman Cecilia Castelli, in her sixth appearance of the season, won the final match of the afternoon by a score of 6-0, 6-1.

“It was great that she got the win,” Mauro said. “She’s a freshman, she’s learning the college game and it’s taking a little time. Cecilia just needs more experience playing matches, and I think she’ll be a good player for us in the future.”

Temple will now get set to play its final two matches of the regular season this weekend at the Student Pavilion. The Owls face Binghamton University on Friday at 1 p.m. and close out the season against George Washington University on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

After the weekend, Temple will head to Orlando, Florida for the American Athletic Conference tournament starting on April 19.

“I think the girls are psyched about going down to Florida, and I think they feel that there’s no opponent out there that they can’t beat,” Mauro said. “I really like the chemistry of the team going into the conference tournament.”

Graham Foley can be reached at graham.foley@temple.edu or on Twitter @graham_foley3. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.

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