The Owls’ (10-8, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) season ended on Wednesday after their 4-0 loss to Southern Methodist in The American’s tournament in Dallas.
The Owls played the match in severe wind, which is something they weren’t accustomed to because they competed indoors most of the season. Only two of the team’s matches were outside. The team also wasn’t accustomed to the heat in Dallas, where temperatures reached nearly 80 degrees.
“The weather in Philadelphia is not always sunny,” junior Alice Patch said. “I just think maybe with a few more outdoor matches we could have taken the match.”
Temple lost in the first round of the conference tournament for the third straight season. The Owls were shutout in The American’s tournament for the second consecutive year. South Florida beat Temple, 4-0, in last year’s first-round match.
The Owls started the Spring 2018 season with a 2-4 record, but they didn’t have a full lineup in four of the first five matches. Senior Alina Abdurakhimova missed matches because of the flu, freshman Oyku Boz had a stomach strain and senior Rimpledeep Kaur had a knee injury. A knee injury also kept Boz out of the lineup during the conference tournament.
Temple then won four of its next six matches, including one against conference opponent Connecticut. With the victory against UConn and another against Cincinnati, the Owls finished the season with a winning conference record for the first time since 2012.
Last year, Temple didn’t win a road match. The Owls finished this season 7-1 at home and 2-6 on the road. They also went 1-1 in neutral site matches.
Temple had seven shutout victories this season. Four of the seven came during a four-match winning streak the Owls rode into the conference tournament. The Owls were also shut out four times this season, including their season-ending loss to Southern Methodist.
“Being with the team and traveling together was always fun,” Patch said. “We go through ups and downs, but ultimately we stay together and that connection becomes a lot closer.”
Patch will be the only senior on the team next season unless coach Steve Mauro adds transfers. Temple will add at least one player next season, as the program announced the signing of Chinese prospect Ruoyu Chen in November.
Patch said she is ready to take on a leadership role in the 2018-19 season. Wednesday’s match against the Mustangs marked the end of the careers of Kaur, Abdurakhimova and fellow seniors Monet Stuckey-Willis and Yana Khon.
“It’s one of the best classes that I have had the privilege to coach,” Mauro said. “On and off the court, they were four nice girls. I know they will be very successful in the future.”
Although the season is over, the team is already focused on improving for next season. The team wants to emphasize earning the doubles point, so it doesn’t have the pressure to win four singles matches, Patch said.
In seven of Temple’s eight defeats, the team lost the doubles point.
“We feel we can win the conference,” Mauro said. “It’s just a matter of we needed to be healthy this year. Hopefully next year, we are gonna be healthy. This was kind of a crazy unusual year with injuries and the flu.”
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