After losing his third-flight singles match to freshman Nicolas Paulus 6-1, 6-4, La Salle junior Chas Berenato angrily threw his racquet against the chain-link fence.
Berenato’s coach, Ed Colfer, had to tell Berenato to calm down, or the Explorers would be assessed their third point penalty of the match.
The La Salle players would have done well to stay calm, but a few of them did not, and it hurt the team. Temple won the match 6-1 on Thursday, April 4. La Salle was assessed two point penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct. Temple coach Steve Mauro threatened to not schedule a match with the Explorers next year.
“It’s unfortunate, because I’d like to keep the rivalry going with them, but sportsmanship is a higher knot on our agenda,” Mauro said. “We look for teams who are sportsmen.”
Berenato earned one of the penalties. During the second set of his match against Paulus, the referee told both players to stop talking and focus on playing the match. Berenato, who was serving, yelled out the score, and the official gave him a point penalty.
“This is the first time we’ve faced a team that acted this way,” Mauro said. “We’re used to playing teams that are a little more respectful on the court, so we didn’t appreciate that.”
Sophomore Kristian Marquart’s top-flight match against La Salle junior Joseph LaBate also included a point penalty. At one point, LaBate complained that Marquart was lying about calls, saying what sounded like “he should be deported,” referring to Marquart, who is Russian. The referee threatened to default the match if LaBate did not calm down.
“[LaBate] just went crazy,” Marquart said. “He couldn’t behave at all. Even his coach was screaming at him. He got crazy, so he didn’t win one game.”
Marquart won the match 6-0, 6-0. During the post-match handshake, LaBate said something to Marquart causing the official to give La Salle its second point penalty. Since the match was over, the penalty was enforced on the second flight match between sophomores Hernan Vasconez and De’Sean Fennell.
“I played the same guy last year,” Marquart said. “He was losing 6-0, 4-0 against me, and he did the same thing. I remember that so well. It was exactly the same guy, exactly the same match and exactly the same score.”
La Salle athletic communications declined comment on behalf of Colfer and players on this story. Requests for further comment from Mauro and players were not granted by Temple athletic communications.
After the match on Thursday, April 4, the Owls said they will look past the distractions of the match and try to continue their three-match win streak.
“I think we’ve made some great improvements,” Mauro said. “This last part of the season, guys are starting to mature, getting used to the college game. We have four matches left, we should win all four of them.”
Evan Cross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EvanCross.