Women’s tennis kicks off outdoor season with sweeps

The women’s tennis team blanked Philadelphia University and Rider on Thursday at the Student Pavilion.

The women’s tennis team dominated in its first outdoor matches of the season Thursday by sweeping Philadelphia University and Rider, both in 7-0 scores, at the Student Pavilion.

The Owls dominated from the beginning and won each match in straight sets against the Rams.

In singles, the Owls were led by freshman Monet Stuckey-Willis (6-0, 6-0) and sophomore Mariana Bedon (6-1, 6-0), who helped Temple gain the early advantage in the match. Freshman Alina Abdurakhimova (6-4, 6-0), junior Minami Okajima (6-2, 6-2), sophomore Dina Karina (6-1, 6-3) and senior Rebecca Breland (6-0, 6-1) also cruised.

“My serve was working really well, as well as my footwork,” Stuckey-Willis said. “Because the wind was blowing hard [Thursday], some balls were stopping short and some balls were going deeper, so making sure my footwork was good was important.”
The team knew coming in that they had the upper hand against a weaker Philadelphia University team.

“We didn’t want to take our opponent for granted,” Stuckey-Willis said. “[Focusing] is really important and you must make sure to win every point. You must play each point like it is your last point.”

In doubles, the Owls won each match easily to win the doubles point. The duo of Abdurakhimova and Karina paced the Owls by blanking their doubles opponent, 6-0. Breland and Stuckey-Willis as well as Bedon and Okajima each won with scores of 6-0 and 6-4, respectively.

In the second match of the doubleheader, the Owls swept Rider, 7-0. Similar to the morning match, the Owls controlled in all facets of the game to cruise to an easy victory.

In singles, Breland, Bedon, Karina and Stuckey-Willis each blanked their opponent 6-0, 6-0. Okajima and Abdurakhimova added singles points with scores of 6-1, 6-1 and 6-2, 6-0, respectively.

In doubles, the three duos gave up one point combined to secure the doubles point easily for the Owls. Coach Steve Mauro said Thursday was a good day for his team to work on some parts of the game that they don’t usually practice.

“Our game plan was to work on different things that we haven’t been doing in matches,” Mauro said. “Sometimes, when you play strong opponents you don’t try new things out. We were going to work on serving, volleying and getting to the net more. Usually, in our matches we don’t get to the net as much, so [Thursday] was a good day to do so.”

Mauro said he was happy that he could get all of the girls some playing time today with injuries to two of his starters. Freshman Yana Khon is still sidelined with a sprained ankle, and sophomore Anais Nussaume has been dealing with some shoulder trouble. Mauro said with Nussaume, her status is day to day.

The Owls (14-6, 0-4 American Athletic Conference) will host Maryland Eastern Shore on April 7.

Dalton Balthaser can be reached at dalton.balthaser@temple.edu or on Twitter @DaltonBalthaser.

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