Temple has won four straight matches against A-10 opponents. The A-10 Tournament begins Friday.
The Temple women’s tennis team heads into the Atlantic Ten Championships this weekend on both a high note and a low note.
The Owls have won five of their last seven matches, including four in a row in the A-10.
But, their chances for a conference title may have taken a bit of a hit when freshman Katharina Mittag fell and injured her ankle during a doubles match against Fordham last Saturday. Mittag had compiled a 10-9 singles record prior to the incident. At this time, it is unknown how serious Mittag’s injury is, but it seems to fit the theme for the Owls this year.
In September, senior captain Elyse Steiner tore her anterior cruciate ligament and has since missed the rest of the season. She has been granted a medical redshirt year, so she will return for a fifth season.
“If we had been healthy all year, I really feel like we could dominate,” coach Steve Mauro said. “Sometimes things like this happen. It’s all part of the game.”
Despite the injuries the team has faced, it still has high expectations entering A-10s.
“I think we should be able to win the A-10 Championship,” Mauro said. “That was our goal in the beginning of the year, and it will remain [our goal now]. Just because we have some players hurt doesn’t mean that we can’t accomplish our goals.”
Temple finished the regular season with a 9-11 overall record and a 4-2 record in the A-10, but winning the conference is all Mauro and his team have talked about all season long.
“It’s what we say Day 1,” Mauro said. “It’s what we said today. We want to win our conference, and that’s what we intend to do.”
The Owls will face tough competition this weekend at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Saint Louis, and their seeding is still up in the air, though it looks like they will not earn one of the Top 2 seeds and the coveted first-round byes from action. Temple has defeated Duquesne, Saint Joseph’s, George Washington and, most recently, Fordham. The only matches the Owls lost to Fordham in their 6-1 win last Saturday were the ones forfeited because of Mittag’s injury. Temple’s losses have come against some of the better teams. Xavier and Richmond both beat the Owls, 5-2.
Richmond defeated the Owls in the final last year to capture the crown. Two years ago, Temple won the A-10 title.
If the Owls can win the A-10 Championship, they will become eligible for the NCAA Championships, which begin on May 14 and continue until the NCAA Championship game on May 31 in Athens, Ga.
Mauro and his team are nowhere close to looking that far ahead, though.
“We are going to have our hands full in the A-10,” Mauro said. ”I believe we can win this, but we are not going to be looking ahead at all.
“It will be an interesting championship, and we will be ready, and we will fight,” Mauro added.
Ryan Rosengrant can be reached at email@example.com.