When sophomores Yana Khon and Alina Abdurakhimova took the court for their Thursday morning doubles match at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Atlantic Regional Championship, it wasn’t the first time the duo played together.
Both hailing from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Khon and Abdurakhimova have played together since childhood.
“They know where to move on the court,” coach Steve Mauro said. “Depending on where the ball is hit on the court, they know who should go for it. They each know their partner’s strengths and weaknesses.”
The pair won its Round of 64 double’s match against Old Dominion University’s Adriana Rajkovic and Natalia Vlasova Thursday before losing 8-1 against Marshall University’s Jackie Carr and Rachael Morales Friday.
The ITA Atlantic Regional Championship, hosted by Liberty University, is Temple’s last competition before the spring season starts in 2016. Khon and Abdurakhimova were the only Owls at the tune-up event, but everyone on the team is preparing for the spring.
“Everyone is working hard,” Mauro said. “I definitely see a lot of improvement from a lot of the girls. Everyone is excited for the upcoming season.”
Both players competed in the singles tournament at Liberty.
Abdurakhimova defeated Towson’s Lucy Williams 6-4,6-4 in Friday’s Round of 64 match, then won her match against Old Dominion’s Nikol Hristova in three sets Saturday to advance to the Round of 16. She lost 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 Saturday afternoon to University of Maryland sophomore Ekaterina Tour.
Abdurakhimova was the first singles player last year, matching up against opponents’ top players. While her position is set, Khon’s is not.
“I’m not sure where she’ll fall in the lineup,” Mauro said. “It’s still too early to tell. She could be anywhere from two to six [in the lineup].”
Temple will have one more week of full practices before NCAA rules limit the team to one hour of instruction each week. The team will have weightlifting and conditioning sessions three times per week.
Evan Easterling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org