Young core helps Owls avoid rebuilding season

The strong play of the freshmen and sophomores has helped replace the loss of five seniors.

Freshman Eric Biscoveanu and sophomore Florian Mayer talk during the Owls’ 4-3 loss to Georgetown University on Friday at the Hecht Tennis Center on University of Pennsylvania’s campus. BILIN LIN FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

In Summer 2015, a 10-man roster stepped on the court as a team for the first time.

One year later, the Owls returned for the first workout of the new season. This time the Owls practiced without five members of the previous year’s team that posted a 20-6 record, the most successful year since coach Steve Mauro began his tenure in 2005.

Hicham Belkssir, Santiago Canete, Ian Glessing, Nicolas Paulus and Ondre Cargill all graduated at the end of the 2016 season. In four seasons, the group posted a combined 220-172 singles record and 155-152 doubles mark. Cargill was accepted to the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, causing him to miss team activities last spring.

The Class of 2016 saw the team’s record improve every year they were on the roster. An 8-12 record in 2013 and an 11-11 record in 2014 grew to be a 15-10 record in 2015. The five seniors combined to go 62-34 in singles and 37-28 in doubles to help Temple win 20 matches in 2016.

After graduating the largest class during Mauro’s 11-year tenure at the end of last season, the Owls needed a large recruiting class to continue their success.

Mauro successfully acquired four new players — freshmen Eric Biscoveanu, Francisco Bohorquez, Steven Hollander and junior Thomas Sevel, who started his career with the Owls in January after transferring from Augusta University in Georgia.

Bohorquez and Biscoveanu have a combined 25-9 singles record and 17-4 doubles mark this season.

In 2013, the freshman season of the five players who graduated last year, freshmen were a combined 18-27 in singles and 10-17 in doubles matches.

The standout talent is not only found in the current freshmen, but also in the current sophomores.

There are three sophomores on the Owls’ roster: Florian Mayer, Uladzimir Dorash and Artem Kapshuk. Their achievements this season include a combined 31-18 singles record and a 32-18 doubles record. Kapshuk, Temple’s top-flight player, earned a spot on the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division I Atlantic Regional Top 20 in January.

“We moved to the American Athletic Conference a few years ago, and Temple has been rising in their academic rank,” Mauro said. “Both of these factors have contributed to our ability to recruit even higher-level players.”

The Owls are currently 14-9 on the season, with remaining matches against the University of Delaware, Rider University and Lehigh University.

Despite improved regular-season results, the Owls’ only have one win in their three appearances at the American Athletic Conference tournament. This year’s tournament is in Orlando, Florida from April 20-23.

“The key is about timing and guys hitting their stride at the right time,” Mauro said. “This team believes that they can beat anyone in the country.”

As far as the multi-year future of this team stands, senior Vineet Naran said the possibilities are endless.

“I honestly believe that this team can be ranked in the Top 50 nationally in a couple of years,” Naran said. “This young group is certainly talented enough, it’s just a matter of focus and determination.”

Dan Wilson can be reached at or on Twitter @dan_wilson4.

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