WRITTEN BY: JIMMY WILLIAMSON
Temple Men’s Tennis swept its doubleheader on Tuesday, beating both Philadelphia University and Coppin State 7-0. With the team going .500 on their most recent road trip, including two shutout loses to #27 Penn State and #33 Memphis, these were two big wins for the team.
It was a bit of an unorthodox morning for the Owls as they were forced to play indoors for their first game. Just as the team was getting comfortable playing outdoors, they were moved to the Legacy Tennis Center due to cold temperatures and strong winds. The move was not enough to trip up the Owls however, as they were able to take care of Philly U with relative ease.
Temple swept doubles to earn the point. Hicham Belkssir and Vineet Naran beat Philly U’s Celso de Vera Rehberger and Molina Megias at the first flight, 7-5. At the second flight, Florian Meyer and Uladzimir Dorash defeated Jacobo Atri and Vincent Breer, 6-3. While Santiago Canete and Artem Kapshuk picked up the win over James Pollard and Sean DeBlasio at the third flight, 6-2.
The Owls carried their strong doubles play into singles, as the team swept singles play and won in straight sets at five of six flights. Artem Kapshuk earned the first singles win for the Owls, beating Luis Molina Megias at the second flight, 6-1, 6-0. Next was Nicholas Paulus at the fourth flight, topping Jacobo Arti, 6-3, 6-0. After that came Hicham Belkssir, who beat Sean DeBlasio, 6-1, 6-1. Uladzimir Dorash earned the next win at the third flight, beating Vincent Breer, 6-3, 6-2. Florian Meyer was the last to win in straight sets, picking up the win over James Pollard, 6-4, 6-1.
Santiago Canete was the lone Owl not to win in straight sets. He won an impressive marathon match at the first flight, besting Celso de Vera Rehberger, 2-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-7).
Head coach Steve Mauro said it was a good win and he was happy with how the team performed against a City 6 rival. “Every time we play a Philly area school, we put a little more emphasis on it,” said coach Mauro. “We want to show we’re the best school here in the city and I think we did that today.”
The team then traveled back to the comforts of the TU Pavilion to face Coppin State. The temperature may have warmed up, but the wind was still in full force that afternoon. Twenty mph gusts of wind would cut the ball and change its trajectory often. Despite the wind, the team was able to carry over their momentum from the morning and make quick work of Coppin State.
It was more of the same in doubles play, as the Owls swept again to earn the point. Filip Stipcic and Ian Glessing earned the first win over Coppin State’s Zaipo Oula and Ross Olexa, 6-1, and the third flight.
Next came Florian Meyer and Uladzimir Dorash, who beat Gavin Lewis and Andres Diaz at the second flight, 6-1. Vineet Naran and Hicham Belkssir finished things off beating Christian Duchnak and Gabrial Franca at the first flight, 6-4.
The Owls actually managed to improve upon their morning performance by winning in straight sets at all six flights. Florian Meyer picked up the first singles win at the third flight over Gavin Lewis, 6-1, 6-0. This was one of the higher flights Meyer has played in this season – Coach Mauro says this was an attempt to build his confidence. The team thinks he can play and compete at a higher position, so they figured they would give him the opportunity.
After Meyer, Nicholas Paulus was next to claim victory, beating Gabriel Franca, 6-0, 6-2, in the second flight. Artem Kapshuk picked up the next win, beating Duchnak at the first flight, 6-4, 6-0. Kapshuk was one of the standout players of the game according to coach Mauro calling him, “a good leader for us on the team, even though he’s a freshman.”
Hicham Belkssir followed Kapshuk, earning a shutout victory over Andres Diaz at the fourth flight, 6-0, 6-0. After that was Vineet Naran, who beat Ross Olexa, 6-2, 6-2, at the fifth flight. Ian Glessing picked up the last win out of the sixth flight, beating Zaipo Oula, 6-0, 6-1.
With four matches remaining before the AAC championship tournament, the team is now heading into their home stretch. With the last four matches all coming at home, the team will look to go a perfect 12-0 at home on the season.
Despite being shutout, the team will look to build off their recent matches against ranked opponents. “Even though we lost to Memphis, it gave us confidence that we can play against top teams in the country,” said head coach Steve Mauro. That confidence will be very important come tournament time.