Steve Mauro wants to make it clear that he’s not going to play favorites.
The men’s tennis coach is also taking over the reins as women’s coach this season. Mauro said he’s going to give both teams equal attention.
“It’s not Temple men or Temple women, it’s Temple tennis,” he said. “It falls into one category.”
Mauro, entering his fourth season guiding the men, is replacing Jill Breslin, who coached the women to an Atlantic Ten Conference Championship and NCAA Tournament birth last year.
Mauro said he doesn’t foresee any scheduling conflicts and is comfortable taking on another position.
“I’ve always been interested in coaching the women,” he said. “It’s an easy transition for me. The women have done real well, and I thought it was a great opportunity.”
Before coming to Temple, Mauro coached men’s tennis at Ursinus College for two seasons. He is also certified by the U.S. Professional Tennis Registry.
“Ever since he arrived, he was determined to bring the Temple tennis program back to its winning ways, and it showed with the winning seasons he produced while he has been here,” senior Ricardo Velazquez said.
Velazquez, who transferred from Lees-McRae College, said the decision to come to Temple was an easy one.
“He really wanted me here and felt I could make a big impact and made the transition very simple,” Velazquez said. “He was very welcoming, and we got along really well right off the bat.”
Mauro took over a struggling men’s program that won just three games in the 2004-2005 season.
He quickly served up a turnaround, as the Owls went 17-8 in his first season with a third-place finish in the 2006 A-10 Tournament.
“It was a good opportunity to come here and turn the program around,” Mauro said. “The athletic department was very supportive of the tennis program here, and I knew I could come in and was looking for a challenge.
“I kind of changed the attitude here for Temple tennis to be strong academically and also strong on the court.”
The tennis team has posted a 3.0 GPA since he arrived and had a 3.25 GPA last year.
“I’m real honest with the kids. We stress academics first, and I think people felt comfortable with me and trusted me,” Mauro said.
The women are going to have to trust Mauro, too. He is taking over a team that has high expectations again.
“We are confident in Coach Mauro,” said junior Elyse Steiner, whom Mauro expects to be the team’s No. 1 player. “He knows the team’s goals for the year and wants nothing more than to help us accomplish each and every one of them. He is a great person and addition to the team. Hopefully his knowledge and personality will help the Temple tennis team to another successful season and Atlantic Ten Championship.”
The team will have to do it without former No. 1 and reigning A-10 Player of the Year Dina Senkina. Losing Senkina, who graduated, is a tough blow, but Mauro likes what he sees and what he has.
“It’s a great group of girls,” he said. “They’re all hard workers, and I’m really impressed by all the girls I’ve met.”
Steiner said the team waited anxiously all summer to find out who its new coach would be. She said the team was excited when it found out it was Mauro and knew he improved the chemistry of the men’s team on and off the court.
That’s exactly what Mauro has in mind.
“I’m trying to unite both programs here,” he said. “I think it’s great that the women support the men and the men support the women. I think it’s great for a better program overall.”
Pete Dorchak can be reached at email@example.com.