Filip Stipcic was all smiles as he watched the women’s tennis team defeat Fordham last Wednesday at the Student Pavilion.
The freshman’s welcome to college tennis didn’t feature as many smiles, as the men’s spring season started with eight straight losses. But the team turned its season around and will now enter this weekend’s American Athletic Conference tournament on a seven-match winning streak – having finished the regular season at 11-10.
Stipcic said there’s no reason to think Temple’s strong play won’t carry into the conference tournament in Memphis.
“As the season was going on we were playing better and better, and I think that everyone will [play] their best tennis,” Stipcic said.
One of the matches in the hot streak for Temple was a conference win at Connecticut on March 29 – the only match the men’s team played in The American due to what coach Steve Mauro attributed to scheduling complications in the conference’s inaugural season. Stipcic said the team will won’t be fazed from a lack of familiarity.
The Racquet Club of Memphis is the host of The American tournament, which also hosts an annual stop on the Association of Tennis Professionals and Women’s Tennis Association tours.
“I heard it’s a big facility and there are going to be a lot of people, so it’s going to be fun,” Stipcic added.
The women’s team is also preparing for their own conference tournament, which will be played this week as well in Tampa Bay. Much like the men, the women have been heating up toward the end of the season having won four of their last five matches and three straight – having ended the regular season with an 8-10 record.
The women are a little more familiar with The American, but finished 1-3 in four matches against conference foes. But much like Stipcic, freshmen Anais Nussaume said she does not believe the unfamiliarity with the conference will hurt the Owls in the conference tournament.
“I don’t think it’s at all a disadvantage,” Nussaume said. “If you have the mindset that no matter what team you play you’re going to win at least you don’t have anything to expect and you’re just going to go there and do your best.”
Nussaume said the recently improved play of Temple could translate to more wins in conference as the tournament provides the Owls with a chance for redemption.
“We can do something good,” Nussaume said.
Mauro said he is pleased with the play of both teams recently and thinks there’s no better time of year to be playing good tennis.
“These conference tournaments are all about peaking at the right time,” Mauro said.
But Mauro wasn’t as quick as his players in dismissing the unfamiliarity with American opponents, as he called it “a little bit of a disadvantage,” particularly for the men.
“It’s a very strong conference so hopefully both teams can just kind of keep the momentum going,” Mauro said. “I think it’s very exciting. I’m especially excited about playing in this conference because I know what a difficult conference it is. We’re trying to make some new rivalries.”
Greg Frank can be reached at Greg.Frank@Temple.edu or on Twitter @g_frank6.