Temple University’s women’s tennis team closed out its third event of the season, the Penn Invite, in impressive fashion. The Owls grabbed multiple key victories in another early test of the season.
Heading into the weekend, coach Steve Mauro saw the Penn Invite as another opportunity to see his young team grow and adapt.
“It’s still a work in progress, we need to just keep getting better and better,” Mauro said.
“It is going to take some time for the five new girls to get used to our system at Temple … we just take it day by day.” He added.
Mauro said the key to his team’s success is to discover what doubles pairings work best. Doubles are a major focus for Temple this year as Mauro changes up the pairings to find the ideal pair. This week was no different.
“We are still not sure with our doubles combinations so we will be switching them up, even next week,” he said. “We put in some new combinations we wanted to see how girls would play with one another.”
Mauro also mentioned some players struggled through injuries while playing, though did not go into the specifics of them.
The Penn Invite showcased Temple, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Delaware and Drexel University on Friday and Saturday. The first day had one round of singles matches and another two rounds of doubles play.
Juniors Cecilia Castelli and Chunan Xiang went undefeated in both singles and doubles play on Friday. The pair defeated Penn’s Ashley Zhu and Melissa Plambeck. In singles, they both defeated their Drexel opponents in two sets. Xiang beat Anisiya Simpson, 6-2 and 6-4, while Castelli defeated Cristina Corte 6-2, 6-2.
The success in play continued with wins from senior Alice Patch and freshman Ruoyu Chen against Drexel. Patch defeated Marta Martinez 7-6 (4), 6-3 and Chen edged out Ghita Benhadi 6-4, 6-3 to close out the day.
“They have stepped up,” Mauro said. “They’ve been playing some good opponents and performed well.”
A different set of the Owls played on Saturday. The doubles performances improved as Stefaniya Surikova and Kristina Titova defeated Drexel’s Ghita Benhadi and Katarina Majorova 6-3.
Junior Oleksandra Doroshenko, Xiang, as well as freshman Yining Tian, and Chen, all notched singles victories of their own against opponents from Delaware and Penn. In all, Temple gathered 11 singles victories and four doubles wins.
Chen was a difference maker for the Owls this weekend — the freshman from China went undefeated in singles play both days of the Penn Invite.
“During the recruiting process, we knew that she was a top player in the country,” Mauro said. “We knew that she could perform at a high level. There are still some areas in her game that we need to work on … but we are really happy with having her here at Temple.”
Temple’s next event will be their only home event taking place at the Student Pavilion. The Temple Invite will take place this coming Friday through Sunday.
“I expect them to have a good tournament, the girls are excited to be playing at home … It should be a lot of fun,” Mauro said.
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