Men’s tennis blanked by Navy

The Owls traveled across the Pennsylvania state border to Maryland and were swept by Navy, 7-0, on Saturday.

The Owls only won one match in nine contests. The only victory came from juniors Nicolas Paulus and Hicham Belkssir in the first flight doubles match.

Tough competition has caused the Owls some trouble this season. They only have one conference win and are winless against nationally ranked opponents.

Navy controlled the match from the beginning by securing the doubles point in two matches with respective scores of 6-3 and 6-4. The Midshipmen also won three out of the six singles matches in straight sets.

Owls coach Steve Mauro said his team was unable to play the aggressive style that it’s accustomed to. In Saturday’s match, Mauro said his team had to play a more conservative style, trying to just keep balls in play.

The weather played an important part in the match Saturday as both teams played sloppy tennis.

“The wind played a huge factor in the match today,” Mauro said. “Because we haven’t been able to play that much outside hurt us because we were not used to the wind conditions. The official told me that the wind was blowing at about 20 miles per hour … it was like we were playing on a different surface.”

The Owls lost all three third-set tiebreakers to fall on the wrong side of those singles matches. This season, the team has struggled to win those all-important tiebreakers and win close matches.

Mauro said both teams were just trying to get the balls over the net through the gusty conditions. He also said that he is looking forward to the team’s remaining games, which will all be at home.

The Owls (11-9, 1-2 American Athletic Conference) will have three days off before hosting a doubleheader at the Student Pavilion on April 8 against Coppin State at 11 a.m. and Rider at 3 p.m.

-Dalton Balthaser

Owls rebound in defeat of Lehigh

After losing two to Penn and Georgetown this past Saturday, the Owls rebounded with a victory against Lehigh, 5-2.

In singles, juniors Nicolas Paulus (6-4, 6-2), Hicham Belkssir (6-3, 6-2) and Santiago Canete (3-6, 6-2, 6-2) led the team with strong performances. Sophomores Vineet Naran (6-4, 6-2) and Filip Stipcic, who won in 7-6 (2), 6-2, each took singles points to help the Owls gain control of the match.

“Santiago played really well today, even though he was under the weather,” coach Steve Mauro said. “After losing the first set, he won the next two sets pretty convincingly and I was happy with how he performed. Everyone else played really solid, and I was happy with how we came back from back-to-back losses.”

In doubles, the Owls struggled and Mauro said that he was unhappy with the team’s effort on the court.

“I was disappointed that we lost the doubles point,” Mauro said. “I don’t know what happened, but to me it looked like the guys weren’t ready for the match and were tired. The guys didn’t look up for the match.”

After losing the double point because his team was not ready, Mauro had to get his team back in the right mindset.

“After doubles we had to talk about showing more emotion in these matches because I though we were definitely the better doubles team today,” Mauro said. “I hope the guys learn not to take any team for granted in singles or doubles. We need come out with a lot more energy in our matches.”

With his win in singles today, Paulus now has 48 career victories, fifth all-time since 2001. He is four wins away from passing current graduate-assistant coach Kacper Rams for fourth all-time on that list.

The Owls (10-8, 0-2 American Athletic Conference) will have three days off before playing one of the most important matches of the season, as they host conference rival Connecticut on March 28.

-Dalton Balthaser

East Carolina sweeps Owls

Freshman Alina Abdurakhimova lost for the first time in singles since Jan. 24 as the Owls dropped their second straight conference match to East Carolina on Wednesday, 4-1.

East Carolina dominated in all facets of the match by winning three out of four singles matches, and winning the doubles point by narrowly escaping two of the three matches in 7-6 victories.

The only point earned by the Owls came from sophomore Anais Nussaume, who won in straight sets with scores of 6-4, 6-2.

In its last two conference matches, the Owls have been outmatched, only earning two total points. They only earned those points in singles, failing to claim any of the doubles points.

The men’s team also played East Carolina Wednesday and lost, 4–0. The Owls were swept for the second straight conference match.

Just like in Temple’s 7-0 loss to Memphis earlier in the season, East Carolina controlled each match and didn’t allow any Owls to score more than four games in a set.

Both teams have struggled in conference play so far, going 0-4 with two points scored. The Owls have been unable to find success in singles or doubles against early conference competition, allowing opponents to control the outcome of each match.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have Connecticut left on their schedules at the Student Pavilion, which will be the last conference opponent they face before the American Athletic Conference Championships.

Both teams will be in Maryland Saturday as they both take on Hampton at 10 a.m. and Maryland Eastern Shore at 3 p.m.

-Dalton Balthaser

Owls end trip with sweep of Murray State

The men’s tennis team has traveled a total of 1,548 miles over the past two weekends, as it journeyed 540 miles to Ohio last weekend and 1,008 miles to Tennessee this weekend.

Despite being shut out Friday by conference opponent Memphis, the Owls responded by blanking the Racers Saturday, 7-0.

Temple won each of its matches in straight sets, controlling each from the beginning.

Coach Steve Mauro said he was happy with how his team responded after a 7-0 defeat to Memphis Friday. He also said that the team got used to the environment and played better.

Juniors Santiago Canete (6-2, 6-2), Nicolas Paulus (6-2, 6-1), Hicham Belkssir (6-4, 6-1) and Ian Glessing (6-0, 6-1) each won their matches easily. Sophomores Filip Stipcic (6-2, 6-1) and Vineet Naran (6-3, 6-3) contributed singles points to the effort, as well.

The doubles pairings made quick work of the Racers to secure the doubles point, which the team struggled to get against Memphis.

“In singles and doubles the guys played well,” Mauro said. “The guys didn’t lose a set and were more focused. We didn’t make as many mistakes in the match today … this was a solid win for us.”

Throughout the course of the season, the Owls have seen its share of inconsistencies in its on-court performances.

Mauro said that traveling a lot can take its toll on his players. He said that the inconsistent play could be attributed to these trips. After traveling for long periods of time, Mauro said the team takes a match to get warmed up and used to the new environment.

“Traveling is part of college tennis and every team has to do it,” Mauro said. “We just grind [traveling] out and do our best.”

The Owls (6-5, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) will travel to conference opponent East Carolina on March 4.

-Dalton Balthaser

No. 16 Nittany Lions blank Owls

No. 16 Penn State dealt a 7-0 blowout defeat to the men’s tennis team Sunday. The Owls lost each match in straight sets.

The shutout marked the first instance this season in which the Owls were held without a point. They managed to get one point in matches against St. Joseph’s and Drexel in the City 6 Tournament.

The Nittany Lions controlled each match, and did not allow the Owls more than four games in any set.

Although the Nittany Lions dominated the Owls, coach Steve Mauro said this match is a stepping stone for his team.

“When you are winning games against these better teams and players, it gives you some confidence that you can compete with stronger teams if you put in the time to get better,” Mauro said.

Mauro said Penn State was better than squad Sunday, but that it can use this match early in the season as a judgment of where it stands as a team.

“Penn State was just better than us today,” Mauro said. “I think that something that the guys can take away from the match today is that we can compete with some of the better teams in the country … some of the scores were close on some of the courts, especially [junior Santiago Canete’s] match.”

The Owls (2-3) will have some time off before taking on Philadelphia University Feb. 13.

-Dalton Balthaser

Vasconez to miss rest of senior season

Senior tennis player Hernan Vasconez will miss his final season of tennis eligibility after suffering a torn ACL.

According to a university spokesman, the injury occurred while practicing and getting ready for the upcoming semester’s season in his hometown of Ambato, Ecuador.

The lone senior on the team has amassed a 33-31 record in singles play and a 22-19 record in doubles during his three and a half years of competition at Temple.

Stiff competition tests Owls in Day One of Penn Invitational

Coach Steve Mauro said he is happy with his men’s tennis squad after it took a step up in competition on the first day of the Penn Invitational Friday.

“I think the guys fought hard and are getting better and better,” Mauro said.

Temple competed against the University of Pennsylvania, St. John’s and University of Buffalo.

Juniors Hicham Belkssir and Nicolas Paulus lost 8-6 in a doubles pro set against St. John’s. Although it was a defeat, Mauro was happy with how both players kept it close.

Belkssir also lost a tight single match against St. John’s in the third set, 6-4.

Junior Santiago Canete won both of his matches in a three-set singles win against Buffalo.

Mauro said one of the biggest factors was the matches were played indoors due to the rain from the day before.

“It wasn’t great for our style because the courts were kind of fast, something that we are not use to,” Mauro said.

Mauro said he was please with the way his team held themselves against its competition and looks forward to the rest of the tournament.

“It was a high level this weekend, I am sure we will do even better tomorrow.” Mauro said.

-Connor Northrup

Men’s tennis tops UConn

The men’s tennis team opened its conference schedule on Saturday with a 5-1 victory against Connecticut.

Scheduling was complicated for coach Steve Mauro with the team’s move into the American Athletic Conference.  As a result, the UConn match was the only conference match Temple will play in the regular season.

“I thought we played extremely well in singles and everyone just fought hard,” Mauro said.

With the conference tournament less than three weeks from now, set to begin on April 17th in Memphis, Tenn., Mauro said he hopes the win will serve as a first step in propelling his team toward the postseason.

“We wanted to get a good start in the conference,” Mauro said.

“We were just able to get one conference match before the tournament but we were happy we played it,” Mauro added. “It really validates all the hard work that we’ve done to beat a conference opponent.”

Temple’s record now sits at 7-10 on the season.  Sunday’s match against Quinnipiac was canceled so Temple will next be in action on Thursday against city rival La Salle.

Men’s tennis falls to William and Mary

It’s been a tough start to the season for the men’s tennis team and it didn’t get any better on Sunday at William & Mary.  The Owls dropped a 6-1 decision on the road falling to 0-4 for the spring season.

Temple was never really in the match against the Tribe, as all six of the points for the Tribe were earned routinely in straight set victories.  One of the few bright spots for the Owls was junior Kristian Marquart’s straight sets victory in singles.

However, Marquart’s victory came at a time when the match was already clinched for William & Mary. Marquart, who lost a competitive three-set match in singles against UMBC on Friday, bounced back to win in straight sets on Sunday.

Friday’s match against UMBC was even worse for Temple, as the team lost 7-0.  After a difficult weekend, the Owls now look to regroup.  They will travel to Old Dominion on Saturday in search of their first victory of the season.

-Greg Frank

Tennis stays busy off the court with volunteering

Although the men’s and women’s tennis teams are not playing on the court, they found a way to team up off the court.

This past Saturday the Owls partnered up with SquashSmarts, a non-profit academic and athletic mentoring program, which is geared towards helping children attain success. Temple volunteered in helping fifth – 12th grade students in different ways including academics/enrichment, squash/fitness, or general service.

SquashSmarts has two different locations in Philadelphia; the Lenfest Center (North Philadelphia) and Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center (West Philadelphia) where students attend practices three days each week focusing on SquashSmarts’ Five Pillars: (1) Academic Support, (2) Squash Instruction, (3) Fitness and Nutrition, (4) Personal Achievement, and (5) Leadership. Students also participate in competitive squash opportunities, community service projects, cultural outings, and special events.