In the final two matches of the regular season, Temple shutout Binghamton University, 7-0, on Friday before falling to George Washington University on Saturday by a score of 4-3 at the Student Pavilion.
The Owls (11-12, 1-3 The American) did not surrender a single set to Binghamton. Their loss against George Washington was the first home loss this season. Temple has a 16-3 home record in the past two seasons.
The team will prepare to travel to Orlando, Florida for the American Athletic Conference tournament, which starts on Wednesday.
“I’m happy the way the girls played,” coach Steve Mauro said. “The first match I thought we played very well. Saturday was a great day because it was senior day and I think the girls, despite the loss, enjoyed themselves. I was happy for them.”
Temple played both matches without junior Monet Stuckey-Willis, who usually plays in the second flight. She suffered a shoulder injury in practice last week and Mauro decided to sit her this weekend so she could recover. The team trainer said Stuckey-Willis will be ready for the tournament, Mauro said.
Senior Dina Karina, who practiced lightly last week after sustaining a minor injury, played in both matches and is expected to be ready for the tournament. Graduate student Galina Chernykh filled in for Stuckey-Willis in the second flight and won both matches.
“I think she’s almost there,” Mauro said of Chernykh. “She had a big win against [George Washington] on Saturday, and I think she’s really excited about conferences. Hopefully, she’ll finish out her final college matches strong.”
The doubles pairs set the tone for the day against Binghamton. Juniors Yana Khon and Alina Abdurakhimova started by winning in the top flight, 6-2. Karina and senior Anais Nussaume followed with a 6-3 victory. In the third position, Chernykh filled in for Stuckey-Willis and battled with senior Mariana Bedon to achieve a 6-3 win.
“We’ve been experimenting with the lineups since Monet was out and it worked out on Friday,” Mauro said. “But I think when we’re at full strength we can do some good things.”
In singles, Abdurakhimova defeated Binghamton’s top singles competitor, senior Annie DiMuro, 6-4, 6-2. Chernykh followed with a victory in the second position 6-0, 6-1. In the third flight, Bedon was victorious 6-2, 6-2.
Karina won in the fourth flight, 6-4, 7-5, and Khon followed with a 6-2, 6-1 win. In the final flight, Nussaume earned a 6-0, 6-0 shutout victory.
Against George Washington, Khon and Abdurakhimova won again in the doubles top flight, this time by a score of 6-3. The Owls, however, surrendered the doubles point. Nussaume and Bedon lost a razor-thin match 7-6 (8) and Chernykh and Karina lost in the third flight, 6-4.
In singles, Abdurakhimova lost in the top flight, 6-4, 6-3. Chernykh got the Owls on the board with a three-set match, winning 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3. Bedon, despite losing the first set, battled back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win in the third flight.
In the fourth flight, Karina fell despite winning the first set. Khon then lost in yet another three-set match to seal the win for George Washington. In the final flight, Nussaume won by a score of 7-5, 7-5.
Temple will have to win The American’s postseason tournament to have a shot at the NCAA tournament. The team will find out its seed and opponent for Wednesday’s first-round match on Monday. Mauro said he thinks the Owls have a shot to win some matches in the tournament as long as they a simple game.
“I think that we just need to be a bit more consistent and patient,” Mauro said. “I think if we are patient just wait for our opportunities we can do good things and get a win on Wednesday.”
Graham Foley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @graham_foley3. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.