Doubles play has been a predictor of Temple’s success this season.
So far this season, Temple has a 4-1 record when it earns the doubles point. The Owls also tied in doubles during their 5-2 win against UConn on March 2 in Storrs, Connecticut.
Saturday’s road match against Lehigh University (7-6, 1-0 Patriot League) is the latest example of the trend. Freshman Oyku Boz and sophomore Kristina Titova beat Mountain Hawks sophomore Sibel Can and freshman Paula Gonzalez in the second flight. Seniors Alina Abdurakhimova and Monet Stuckey-Willis beat senior Briana Maravich and junior Grace Lin in the third position.
Then, Temple (6-6, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) won all six singles matches to earn a 7-0 victory, its third shutout win of the season. The effort put the Owls back in the win column after they lost back-to-back matches to the University of Delaware and Penn last weekend.
After those losses, coach Steve Mauro said his team occasionally went for big shots too early in points and needed to improve its patience.
“They did a good job,” Mauro said after Saturday’s match. “We did a good job against a very good Lehigh team. To beat them 7-0 was a good win.”
Against Lehigh, Mauro changed one of the doubles combinations. Stuckey-Willis and Abdurakhimova paired up for the first time since the Owls’ 5-1 loss to George Washington University on Feb. 3.
Despite being teammates for four seasons, the two hadn’t played together before this spring.
Junior Alice Patch and senior Rimpledeep Kaur played in just their second match together in their 7-5 loss to Lehigh senior Christina Auyeung and freshman Casey Zhong.
They’ve played doubles together in back-to-back matches. Their first match was a win against Penn freshman Jimena Rodriguez-Benito and junior OJ Singh on March 17.
In matches when the Owls lose the doubles point, they have a 1-5 record. In three of those matches, however, Temple didn’t field three doubles pairs because some players were either out sick or injured.
“[They] feel comfortable playing with one another, especially doubles teams,” Mauro said. “When we were not healthy, we would put different doubles combinations, and now girls are able to practice with the same player.”
In matches when Temple only had two doubles pairs instead of three, like in its loss to George Washington, the team started at a disadvantage. The opponent would earn an automatic victory and need to win only one match to earn the doubles point, while Temple would have needed to win both.
All eight players on the Owls’ roster competed against Lehigh. Patch said the Owls are more of a complete team when they are fully healthy.
Temple has a 6-3 record in matches when it has at least six players.
“It’s been very important,” Patch said. “Having a full team means that we have everyone starting. Everyone’s got full energy. I think it has really helped us.”