Tennis places 3rd at A-10s

Women’s tennis beat La Salle and UMass before losing to Richmond.

The Temple women’s tennis team finished in third place at this weekend’s Atlantic Ten Championships in St. Louis, falling in the conference semifinals to Richmond. The Owls finished their season with an 11-12 overall record and a 6-3 record in the A-10 Conference.

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TTN File Photo/PAUL KLEIN Senior Anastasiia Rukavyshnykova hits a forehand against the Drexel Dragons in February. Rukavyshnykova will graduate from Temple this May.

The Owls headed into play last Friday at 10:30 a.m. as the No. 3 seed. They faced off against 14th-seeded Big 5 foe La Salle and handled the Explorers with a decisive 4-0 victory.

The Owls swept the doubles point and won the first three singles matches with victories from senior Anastasiia Rukavyshnykova, junior Lucie Pazderova and junior Theresa Stangl. Rukavyshnykova, Pazderova and Stangl won five of their six sets, 6-0, with the other set a 6-1 victory.

“We played really well in that match,” coach Steve Mauro said. “We expected that one to go the way it did. We are always pumped up to play a fellow Philadelphia school, [and] I think that really showed.”

The Owls advanced to take on No. 6 seed Massachusetts at 6 p.m. that same Friday. The Owls made quick work of UMass with a 4-1 victory. This match’s victories came from Stangl, freshman May Johnson and freshman Katharina Mittag.

Mittag had suffered an injury in the last match of the regular season against Fordham but was able to make a full recovery and help the team make it to the conference semifinals.

“She showed a lot of guts in being able to come back,” Mauro said. “She was pretty hurt, and it was not easy for her. She showed lots of guts, and that is something to be very proud of.”

Despite Mittag’s contributions, the Owls’ season came to an end in the semifinals.

The Owls squared off against the No. 2 seed Richmond Spiders. Temple lost, 4-1. The lone win for the Owls came from Johnson, who won her match in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.

“We just fell a little short,” Mauro said. “We thought we had a good shot to win this championship. If we had been able to win this match, we had a great shot. It just wasn’t our day.”

Johnson finished her freshman season with a 16-5 overall record, including an 8-0 record in conference play. Only one of those eight wins in conference went to a third and deciding set.

“May really had an outstanding season,” Mauro said. “I could not have asked for more. If this is what we get out of her freshman year, we have a lot to look forward to.”

The A-10 Championship match came down to Richmond and the surprise No. 5 seed George Washington Colonials. The Colonials had defeated ninth-seeded Charlotte to advance to the championship. The 49ers had upset No. 1 seed Xavier.

In the final conference match of the season, the Spiders came away victorious by a score of 4-0. All of their victories came in straight sets.

“My hat’s off to Richmond,” Mauro said. “They have been a good team all year. They beat us earlier in the year and today. They are a really good team and will represent our conference well in the NCAA Tournament.”

The Owls had entered the conference championship with their own aspirations of taking home the crown. However, they should have a strong squad heading into next season. The majority of the roster will be back. Only Rukavyshnykova, who compiled an 18-11 record in singles this year, will be graduating.

“She has meant a lot to our program,” Mauro said. “She is a strong player and a strong person. She will definitely be missed.”

To offset that loss, the Owls will have senior captain Elyse Steiner back for next season. Steiner tore her anterior cruciate ligament last September but has been granted a medical redshirt season.

“That was a devastating loss for our team,” Mauro said. “I am very glad to see that she will be back and glad for her that she gets another shot at a senior season. That is no way for a college career to end.”

The Owls will begin play again in September. Mauro said the goals will remain the same as this year’s.

“We will walk in with the same things in mind,” Mauro said. “We want to win the conference. I think we will have the experience and the skill to get it done. Only time will tell, but I really believe in these girls, and I think this is something that we can accomplish.”

Ryan Rosengrant can be reached at ryan.rosengrant@temple.edu.

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