WRITTEN BY: JIMMY WILLIAMSON
The Owls capped off an impressive regular season with another striking victory, picking up the win over City Six rival Drexel University, 5-2. With the win, the team clinched an undefeated home record for the second year in a row, going a perfect 12-0.
Temple got out to the early lead winning the doubles point, which later on proved to be crucial. Temple and Drexel would split the first two matches, with Temple’s Hicham Belkssir and Vinete Naran picking up the win at the first flight over Daniil Ginzburg and Hamza Laalej, 6-4, and Drexel’s Sinan Orhon and Kashyap Ashok beating Uladzimir Dorash and Florian Mayer at the second flight.
The pressure was on Santiago Canete and Artem Kapshuk to win the double point for their teammates and they did not disappoint. The two battled hard against Drexel’s Balaji Lakshmanan and Xabier Saavedra at the third flight. Temple took the advantage early in the match before Drexel clawed their way back to take the lead; the lead changed sides continuously as the match wore on. There were no secure leads. Eventually, fatigue set in for Drexel, giving Temple the chance to clinch the match point, winning 7-6 (11). I found this to be the match of the day. Canete and Kapshuk battled their way back from the point of oblivion against two very skilled opponents.
The excitement would only continue going into single play. Temple earned the first win in singles, with Hicham Belkssir picking up the win at the fifth flight over Balaji Lakshmanan, 6-3, 6-1. The Owls then followed this by dropping the next two matches, as Florian Mayer would lose at the sixth flight and Nicholas Paulus at the fourth flight.
The score was tied at two as the last three singles matches had yet to be decided. Luckily for the Owls, Santiago Canete and Artem Kapshuk were able to build off of their early match success. Kapshuk gave Temple the lead with his, 6-2, 6-1, win over Andrew Sinai, Canete would lock up the win for the Owls beating Xabier Saavedra at the first flight, 6-2, 6-4. Head coach Steve Mauro said that these two each played great matches and that they were two of the team’s better players on the day.
Uladzimir Dorash picked up the team’s fourth and final win at the third flight, beating Hamza Laalej, 5-7, 6-4, 10-7. This was not only Dorash’s fourth straight win, but his fourth straight three set win. The amount of endurance that Dorash has put fourth in his recent matches is really impressive, as he seems just about ready for the AAC tournament.
With this win, the Owls also tied the Temple Tennis record for most wins in a single season at 20. They also went a perfect 4-0 against rival Philadelphia teams on the year.
Despite all their accomplishments, the Owls must now switch their attention to the rapidly approaching AAC Championship tournament. The team went 2-2 in conference play this season, with both losses coming on the road. The Owls struggled away from home, going 3-4, and against ranked opponents, 0-3, so they must prepare accordingly when they leave the confines of the TU Pavilion to take on very tough AAC rivals.
Though the road ahead may not be easy, the team seems ready and hungry for whatever challenges it may face. “I think we’re having a great year,” head coach Steve Mauro said. “We are pretty confident and we’re looking forward to the tournament.”