Fresh off program record, women’s tennis ready for CAAs | The Triangle

Fresh off program record, women’s tennis ready for CAAs

Sophomore Lea Winkler sizes up an incoming ball. Winkler and the women’s tennis team won a program-record 15 matches this season. (Ajon Brodie - The Triangle)
Sophomore Lea Winkler sizes up an incoming ball. Winkler and the women’s tennis team won a program-record 15 matches this season. (Ajon Brodie – The Triangle)
The Drexel University women’s tennis team kicked off a back-to-back April 11-12 against Towson University and the University of Delaware.

The 48-hour swing got off to a positive start against the Tigers as the team completely swept the doubles matches, with doubles partners Lea Winkler and Kendra Bunch winning 8-5 in the third game.

Despite the one point advantage, the team dropped the first two singles points, as Nicole Pivonka lost in three close sets. Clary Rodriguez Cruz evened the score at two-all with her straight-set win. However, the chance at a win would be short lived when the Dragons dropped their next two points before salvaging the third and final point to lose 4-3.

In the next day’s match against Delaware, the team rebounded and completely shut down the Blue Hens, 7-0.

The only close doubles game they encountered came when Winkler and Bunch sweated out an 8-7 victory. In the singles matches, Pivonka easily won in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2. Erin Bowsher traded sets with her opponent before winning the third and final set, 10-8.

The Dragons would go on and sweep the rest of the singles games, all in straight sets. With the win, the women’s team head into the Colonial Athletic Association Championships at 15-2 and a perfect 10-0 record at home. The 15 wins is a program record for most victories in a single season.

The men’s team put up a similar performance against Delaware in their near-shutout win of 6-1.

The doubles games kicked off in the same manner as the team swept all three matches highlighted by Badr Ouabdelmoumen and Daniel Hansen’s 8-6 win.

The Dragons went up 2-0 in an instant with Alex Fioravante’s solid straight-set win, 6-0, 6-1.. After splitting the next two matches, the game was sealed by Ouabdelmoumen’s straight set win.

The team went on to win the final two singles matches in straight sets as well. With the win against the Blue Hens, the men’s team heads into the CAA Championships with a 12-9 record, 11 of those wins coming at home.

As the teams head into the conference tournaments, head coach Mehdi Rhazali said he’s excited about what lies ahead.

“The CAA Championship is always something we look forward to and get excited about,” Rhazali explained. “It’s always nice to be part of it and to have the opportunity to see competitive matches, especially this year.

“We finished the regular season better than any other season and that really put us in a nice position in terms of momentum and confidence.”

Still, he acknowledged, the teams will be underdogs in their respective tournaments.

“We have no pressure, we did great things this year, and we will go play from the heart and fight for every point with strong body language and no regrets,” Rhazali said. “If we go in with this mindset, good things will happen, as I always say.”

The men’s team will enter the CAA championships as the No. 7 seed where they’ll go up against No. 2-seeded Elon University. The Phoenix went 9-12 on the season. Although an under sub-.500 team, Elon has played against the likes of the University of South Carolina, the University of Tennessee and the University of Utah earlier this year, which better prepares them against Drexel.

The women’s team will also go into the championship as a No. 7 seed against the No. 2 seed the College of Charleston. Charleston heads against Drexel with a 12-12 record but like Drexel, they go into the tournament red hot, riding an eight-game winning streak.