After a year of 17 wins, including one against the University of Massachusetts in the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament quarterfinals, the women’s tennis team’s season came down to one match.
Senior first singles player Theresa Stangl faced off against Saint Louis graduate student and 2010 A-10 Most Outstanding Player Hailee Elmore with the match score tied in the semi-finals of the A-10 Tournament on Saturday. The winner would seal a match victory for her team and secure a spot in the finals.
Stangl gave a valiant effort but could not pull off the upset dealt by Elmore, who beat Stangl in three sets 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, ending Temple’s season.
“Overall, we played very well,” coach Steve Mauro said. “We had a great season.”
The tournament was a single-elimination, seeded grouping of the Top 14 teams in the A-10 from the regular season. Temple entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed after posting a 6-1 in-conference record in the regular season. Temple, along with No. 1 seed Richmond, got a first round bye and the team faced No. 7 seed Massachusetts in the second round.
In a competitive match at each position, the Owls shut out the Minutemen, 4-0. Senior classmates Elyse Steiner and Lucie Pazderova finished first and gave the Owls a 1-0 lead with a 9-7 win at first doubles. Pazderova added to the lead with a 6-3, 6-1 decision at fifth singles. Temple freshman Jordan Batey brought the lead to 3-0 after her 6-1, 6-3 win at sixth doubles. Steiner finished the match with a 7-5, 6-2 win at second singles, giving the Owls the 4-0 win.
“I was extremely happy with the Massachusetts win,” Mauro said. “But honestly, I’m not happy unless we win the whole thing.”
Temple went on to face No. 3 seed Saint Louis in the semi-finals. Saint Louis defeated No. 6 seed Duquesne in the quarterfinals, and Mauro said the Owls got a tough draw with this matchup.
“We didn’t match up well against Saint Louis,” Mauro said. “They hit a lot of lob shots, which we’re not used to. We’re used to playing ranked teams across the country that use a different style.”
The Owls won the doubles point, but the Billikens’ conservative play frustrated the Owls at singles. The Billikens’ lob shots controlled the speed of the game. Despite wins by Steiner and Batey at second and sixth singles, respectively, the Owls were swept at singles positions three through five, which created the 3-3 tie that set up Elmore and Stangl’s match.
“The standout player was probably [Steiner],” Mauro said. “She won all three of her matches at second singles.”
Batey was another standout. Including her three wins in the tournament, she finished the year with an 11-match winning streak at sixth singles. And she’s been doing this all as a freshman.
“Our freshmen played very well,” Mauro said. “We counted on them a lot.”
Saint Louis went on to lose to two-time defending champion Richmond in the tournament finals. The Owls beat the George Washington Colonials on Sunday in a consolation match to take third place.
Temple played very competitively against Richmond in a 4-3 loss earlier this year and as a result, coach Mauro had very high expectations coming into the tournament.
“I thought we could win the whole thing,” Mauro said. “I thought it’d be a tough road, but I thought we could do it.”