Owls pick up first win of season against Cyclones

Temple beat Iowa State University 4-2 on Friday at the University of Pennsylvania’s Hamlin Tennis Center.

The women’s tennis team secured its first victory of the season by taking down Iowa State University 4-2 on Friday night at the University of Pennsylvania’s Hamlin Tennis Center. The Owls (1-1) picked up four singles wins and one doubles victory.

Temple had a tough start in doubles, as juniors Yana Khon and Monet Stuckey-Willis lost 6-3 in the first position. Seniors Anais Nussaume and Mariana Bedon earned a 6-3 victory in the second spot, but senior Dina Karina and junior Alina Abdurakhimova dropped the final match 6-3.

In singles, Abdurakhimova made up for her doubles loss with a 6-1, 6-2 win in the top spot. Abdurakhimova is new to the top position after playing in the second spot in the team’s first match this season.

“Alina just played real solid tennis,” coach Steve Mauro said. “She took advantage of short balls, had a lot of winners, and she served very well. It was great because her doubles game didn’t go so well, but she bounced right back playing in number one singles.”

Stuckey-Willis followed Abdurakhimova with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 victory in the second position. She suffered a tough 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 loss in the fourth spot in Temple’s first match on Jan. 14 against Old Dominion University, but she delivered a big win in the second spot on Friday..

“She kept more balls in play and she played a little bit of a smarter brand of tennis than she did in her match against ODU,” Mauro said. “Monet is a very talented player so we’re going to need her if we’re going to be successful this year.”

Khon, Temple’s lone singles victor in the team’s loss against Old Dominion two weeks ago, won in the fourth slot 6-2, 6-4, while Mariana Bedon won in the sixth and final slot 6-4, 6-4.

Nussaume took Temple’s only singles loss in the third position by a score of 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Karina couldn’t finish her singles match in the fifth position because the match was already decided and singles were unable to surpass two sets.

Graduate student Galina Chernykh could not play due to a foot injury she sustained more than two weeks ago, despite her optimism last week. Mauro said she won’t travel to Virginia with the team Saturday as it prepares to play in the Virginia Commonwealth University Invite this weekend.

Chernykh played in the top position in singles in Temple’s first match of the season.

“It’s unfortunate because she’s a very good player and we especially could use her against VCU, who is a very strong opponent,” Mauro said. “The other girls will just have to step up and hopefully they can do well this weekend.”

Mauro said Chernykh will see a doctor this week. They are still optimistic that she can make a speedy recovery and be a difference-maker for the Owls.

For now, they’ll have to compete without the former Atlantic-10 all-conference player.

“We have a very talented team and everyone has been practicing very hard so we’re going to get a lot of wins this year,” Mauro said. “I’m just glad the loss at ODU didn’t bother them and they really stepped up today and played well.”

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

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