Owls sweep Fairleigh Dickinson to stay perfect at home

The women’s tennis team defeated Fairleigh Dickinson University at home Friday night.

The women’s tennis team won its fifth dual match of the season with a dominant 7-0 sweep of Fairleigh Dickinson University at home Friday night. The win kept the Owls (5-3) perfect in home and neutral matches and gave them their fourth sweep of the season.

“I’m really happy with the girls’ effort,” coach Steve Mauro said. “Overall, the girls have been working hard and they’ve been playing some real solid tennis.”

The match started with a tone-setting victory in doubles as juniors Yana Khon and Monet Stuckey-Willis took down Fairleigh Dickinson’s top doubles duo by a score of 6-4. Junior Alina Abdurakhimova senior Dina Karina followed suit with a 6-2 win and seniors Mariana Bedon and Anais Nussaume closed out doubles with a 6-1 win.

The Owls have now kept the same doubles combinations for five matches in a row.

“Doubles is a work in progress,” Mauro said. “We’ve been mixing it all up based on chemistry and styles of play. We think that these are the best combinations, but we may be changing them again. If they continue to work hard in practice we’re going to get better and better in doubles.”

In singles, Abdurakhimova led off for the Owls and captured a relatively easy 6-1, 6-1 win. Abdurakhimova has thrived in the top singles spot for the Owls winning six of her seven matches with the lone loss agaisnt the University of Pennsylvania. In the process, Abdurakhimova has taken down a ranked opponent in Iowa State’s Samantha Budal and won the American Athletic Conference’s Player of the Week award.

“Since I’ve had [Abdurakhimova] here at Temple, she’s just done all the right things,” Mauro said. “She’s a fantastic player, has a good work ethic, and she’s playing some of her best tennis that I’ve seen. She’s a very good player and we’re happy to have her.”

Two other juniors followed Abdurakhimova as Willis won tight one 7-6, 6-3 and Khon won 6-3, 6-4. Two seniors in the fourth and fifth positions kept the sweep alive as Karina won 6-1, 6-2 and Bedon won 6-3, 6-1.

In the sixth and final position, freshman Cecilia Castelli saw her only action of the day and took advantage by winning an easy one, 8-0. Castelli, the team’s only underclassmen, has seen action in three matches now, coming away with two victories and one match that did not finish.

“She’s getting her confidence back,” Mauro said. “She’s a very good player, shes very solid, it just has taken her a little time to get acclimated to college tennis. But she’s definitely going to help our team and we need her to be playing at a high level to have a winning season this year.”

The victory was not without a few health issues for Temple. Nussaume was limited to just doubles play due to flu-like symptoms, according to Mauro. In addition, graduate student Galina Chernykh did not play due to a foot injury that has sidelined her since Temple’s first match of the season.

Mauro said he is unsure of when Chernykh will return to the court but stressed that her return is crucial for the Owls to be successful in the postseason.

The Owls next face Georgetown University on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.

“I think this is going to give them a lot of confidence,” Mauro said. “Georgetown is a tough team and especially playing on the road is never easy. But I think the girls now definitely have a lot of confidence and we look forward to the challenge of Georgetown.”

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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