Temple lost to Columbia to bring its record to 4-4.
One loss turned into two losses, then three losses and soon enough, the women’s tennis team had dug themselves into a hole it couldn’t get out of.
“I was surprised,” coach Steve Mauro said. “I thought there was one we would win easily and a few that could’ve gone either way, but it was pretty disappointing.”
The Owls dropped the match, 4-3, to the Columbia Lions, who came down I-95 from New York City and handed the Owls’ first home loss in the young season. The loss also snapped a two-game winning streak that the Cherry and White had accumulated after knocking off Binghamton and Buffalo last week.
The match at Arthur Ashe Tennis Center started on a good note with the senior doubles team combo of Elyse Steiner and Lucie Pazderova winning easily, 8-2, in a lopsided match on court two. Columbia countered by claiming a win on court three, making the match on court one the deciding one for the doubles point.
Seniors Theresa Stangl and Christine Clermont were down early but swung the momentum back in their favor midway through the match and fought back to win, 9-7. The Owls took the doubles point and the early lead.
“The girls on court one seemed like they were really gelling for the first time this year,” Mauro said. “That was definitely their best match this season.”
The match started going downhill for the Owls when the Lions came out on fire in singles matches. Freshman Alicia Doms lost quickly on straight sets 6-1, 6-1, tying the overall score up at one a piece. Junior Mellana Cramer lost, 7-5, 7-5, on court five, and freshman Jordan Batey followed with a 6-3, 6-2, defeat on court six.
“I was surprised because I thought we could’ve won numbers four and five,” Mauro said. “Batey played well though because she missed the last two weeks with an ankle injury. That was a good performance.”
Down 3-1, the Owls needed all three of the remaining singles points to pull off the comeback. But nationally ranked sophomore Nicole Bartnik secured the win for Columbia by beating Temple’s top player, Stangl, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
With the match already decided and the loss secured, freshman Yana Mavrina won 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, and Steiner needed three sets to win, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.
“We knew it would be a tight match because they’re a much improved team with some top performers,” Mauro said.
The Owls, who are predicted to finish third in the Atlantic Ten Conference in the preseason, fell to 4-4 on the season and will travel to Maryland next weekend to take on University of Maryland Baltimore-County, before coming home to face Syracuse and Delaware in a crucial stretch of the schedule.
“UMBC is always tough, and they had a great recruiting year, but we feel like we match up well with them,” Mauro said. “Syracuse is tough too. This will be a great test for us to see where we are at this point in the season. Some injuries are starting to heal for us, everyone’s coming back, and we feel good right now going forward.”
Brandon Stoneburg can be reached at email@example.com.