Despite opening the spring season with two losses at the VCU 4+1 Invitational, coach Steve Mauro wasn’t too worried about his team.
“It’s so early in the season,” Mauro said. “We just started practice on Monday. We just got thrown into the fire.”
Temple lost its first match of the season to Campbell, 3-2. A few hours later, they fell to 46th ranked Virginia Commonwealth, 3-0. Mauro’s analogy is apt, as VCU is currently the highest ranked team the Owls will play all season.
The VCU 4+1 is so named because the teams play four singles matches and one doubles matches at the same time. The first team to win three individual matches wins the entire match.
In the Campbell match, junior Jordan Batey was the only singles victor of the day, defeating freshman Ana Ortiz 6-4, 6-1.
“I thought Jordan played very well,” Mauro said. “I was very happy with the way she stepped up. Hopefully she’ll continue and keep working hard, and if she continues this way she should have a great year this year.”
Junior Yana Mavrina lost to junior Karolina Chernaya 6-2, 6-2. Sophomore Ama Osei fell to sophomore Tamara Stanic 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. Junior Alicia Doms lost 6-4, 6-4 to freshman Ewa Telenga.
“Any of those three matches could have gone either way,” Mauro said. “Ama’s match was really close, she played pretty well.”
Sophomore Rebecca Breland and freshman Minami Okajima teamed up in doubles, defeating junior Natasha Alfridi and senior Lourdes Ros 6-3, 0-6, 2-1. Campbell had to pull out of this match in the third sat due to an injury. This was Okajima’s first college match.
Later in the day VCU defeated Temple 3-0. Because the Rams won the first three completed matches, the other two were finished early. Mauro said it was “closer than the score indicated.”
In the completed matches, Mavrina fell to Cindy Chala 6-1, 6-1. Osei lost 6-0, 6-3 to sophomore Salome Kvitashvili. In her singles debut, Okajima fell 6-0, 6-0 to junior Olga Terteac.
Breland was playing Yukako Noi, and Noi was leading that match 6-3, 2-2 when it was called. In the doubles match, Batey and Doms were close to winning the second set over senior Josefin Hjertquist and freshman Karina Alesha. The score when it was stopped was 6-3, 3-5, in favor of VCU.
Mauro stressed that the season is lengthy and the team has plenty of time to round into shape.
“We haven’t figured out doubles combinations yet,” Mauro said. “It’s a long season; it goes until the end of April. We have a long time to figure out the lineups, and we’re just going to continue to improve.”
The Owls will finish up the competition on Sunday at 11 a.m. against Morgan State.
Evan Cross can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @EvanCross.