The men’s tennis team wants to make sure they are not labeled as one-year wonders.
The Owls surprised the Atlantic Ten Conference last season by placing
third at the conference
tournament, a year removed from winning just three games.
“We had the attitude
that we could win and compete,” said coach Steve Mauro, who turned around the team in his first year at Temple.
While the team is proud of what they accomplished last year, they are by no means taking last year’s success for granted. They opened the A-10 schedule with a 5-1 loss Sunday at Duquesne.
The Owls are led by a strong group of upperclassmen, including senior Daniel Davis and juniors Kris Celtnieks, Philip Gegenheimer and Zach Tobias. This veteran core is joined by freshman Pavlos Stephanides, who was recently recognized
as A-10 Rookie of the Week for his efforts
against Saint Francis and Swarthmore.
While the coaching staff is excited about the players they have, the A-10 is going to be no cakewalk. Mauro said the conference looks to be very formidable and, if nothing else, very balanced.
“There are a lot of strong teams out there,” Mauro said. “Charlotte appears to be a notch better then everyone else, while the rest of the conference is all about the same strength.”
While the team is geared up for a tough conference schedule, the games leading to conference play have been very positive.
“We have been very enthusiastic and have worked very hard,” Mauro said. “We showed a lot of unity and solid chemistry in our win against Swarthmore.”
Tobias has opened the eyes of the coaching staff.”
Zach didn’t start as a sophomore, but has stepped up and come up big for us so far this year,” Mauro said.
“I, personally, want to keep on winning and doing my part,” Tobias said. “As a team, we want to finish at least as well as we did last year.”
Mauro said there appears to be a change in attitude. In years past, the team did not necessarily believe in their talents, he said.
“Our kids didn’t really believe that they were as good as they were,” Mauro said.
“When we beat Richmond last year, it gave us a confidence that we didn’t previously have.””As our team gets better and better, we get more and more confident,” sophomore Eduardo Saavedra said. “It is good to get to see our friends within the athletic department have confidence and support for us.”
While the team has its goals for the upcoming A-10 season, their coach realizes that it is a long season and anything can happen. “We hope to be healthy and fresh when tournament time comes along,” Mauro said.
While support for tennis isn’t exactly great among the student body, the coach hopes winning will cure all that ails.
“We hope us being competitive will lead to new fans,” Mauro said. “Our first big home game is Saturday against Richmond.”
Kenny Walter can be reached at email@example.com.