WRITTEN BY: JIMMY WILLIAMSON
Temple Men’s tennis showed a lot of grit and determination in their 5-2 win over Duquesne. It was a hard-earned victory for the Owls as momentum shifted constantly throughout the day.
The match – originally scheduled for 10 a.m. – was postponed until 3:30 in the afternoon due to inclement weather. Things got better later in the day, but the elements were definitely a factor in the day’s match.
Duquesne was able to jump out to the early lead in doubles with Tim Kane and Harry Walshe beating Temple’s Santiago Canete and Artem Kapshuk at the third flight, 6-3. The team then rebounded nicely picking up wins in the next two doubles matches, with Hicham Belkssir and Vinete Naran beating Corey Robinson and Dimitris Stavropoulos at the first flight, 6-3, and the freshman pair of Florian Meyer and Uladzimir Dorash beating Adam Blasinsky and Chris Corrao at the second flight, 6-3.
Head coach Steve Mauro felt the team got off to a bit of a slow start in doubles because of the morning’s postponement. “It was tough, we were ready to play at 10 and I kept texting [the team] back and fourth, so we didn’t really know what was going on. I know the guys were sleeping and would get up for the match, then go back to sleep. So I think in doubles we were a little bit asleep, but we picked it up in singles,” coach Mauro said.
Things would get much more heated in singles play as Duquesne did not give the Owls any easy wins. In each of their four singles victories, the Owls nearly sacrificed the second set after jumping out to an early lead. The Dukes made them earn their wins.
Duquesne was able to pick up the win at the first flight, with Corey Robinson defeating Atrem Kapshuk, 6-3, 6-1. Kapshuk’s game was a little bit off on the day as he struggled with keeping the ball in play and elevating his shot over the net. A combination of poor playing conditions and the match’s delay may have been the cause of Kapshuk’s out of the ordinary play.
It was a good day for the team’s seniors, as all three would pick up impressive wins in straight sets. Santiago Canete picked up the first singles win for the Owls, beating Dimitris Stavropoulos at the second flight, 6-2, 6-4. Next came Nicholas Paulus, who beat Drew Atkins, 6-3, 6-4, at the fourth flight. Hicham Belkssir may have had his most impressive win of the season, making quick work of Chris Corrao at the sixth flight, 6-1, 6-4.
An interesting moment came in Florian Mayer’s loss to Harry Walshe at the fifth flight. During the second set, Santiago Canete was almost asked to leave the courts due to interfering with the match. Harry Walshe went to complain to the referee about the chatter going on courtside, when in actuality, it was Walshe who started talking to Canete first. This then led to a fiery display by the Duquesne head coach, who routinely made a scene when he did not agree with a call by the referee.
Uladzimir Dorash may have had the match of the day, beating Adam Blasinsky at the third flight, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-5. The match seemed to go on forever before Dorash finally captured the match point. After getting out the early lead, Dorash would lose the next set and fall behind late in the third. Blasinsky was actively showboating up until match point, he would dab after several of his points. With his back against the wall, Dorash was able to battle back from near extinction to claim an extraordinary, come from behind win.
Uladzimir Dorash thought the weather conditions played a big role in his match as it took him a while to get acclimated to the wind, causing him to make mistakes he normally would not. “Overall, I played well in the important moments during the match. I am pretty satisfied I won, the guy had a match point on me and it’s always a pleasure, no matter how you played, to come back from,” Uladzimir Dorash said.
Head coach Mauro was happy about the win, but did see some room for improvement. “I still feel we need to be more solid,” said coach Mauro, “Duquesne is a good team and we always battle with them. We still need to be more solid out there and finish more points at the net.”
This win brings the team to 9-0 at home on the year. They are now just three wins away from going undefeated at home on the year, but cannot overlook any of their remaining opponents. An undefeated home record would be a very nice confidence booster going into the AAC championship tournament. The team will need to be confident and come ready to play if they want to improve on last season’s quarterfinal exit.