The Drexel tennis team rolled over Saint Francis University Feb. 9 at the Armory, with the men’s and women’s teams claiming both matches.
The women’s team cruised to a 6-1 victory due in part to a near-clean sweep of the singles matches. The opening match in singles saw junior Nicole Pivonka defeat her opponent handily in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3. Sophomore Erin Bowsher played through a knee injury in the longest match for the team, before also winning in straight sets.
“Erin had the longest match at No. 5,” head coach Mehdi Rhazali said after the match. “She played through a knee injury [and] I was impressed with how she was able to stay focused and didn’t let the injury get to her head. Her groundstrokes were deep and she played with a high percentage shot selection, especially when it [came] to when to change direction. She made the right decisions, especially in the tiebreaker.”
The team also swept both doubles matches against St. Francis. Bowsher and her doubles partner, freshman Lea Winkler, shut out their opponents with a 6-0 victory. The women’s team improved to 4-1 on the season with the win. They will stay at the Armory as they host Howard University Feb. 16.
The men’s team similarly followed the women’s winning ways by defeating St. Francis, 5-2. Senior Skyler Davis and junior Dan Koehler opened up the doubles part with a 6-3 win. Junior Alex Fioravante and sophomore Xabier Saavedra followed them up with a 6-2 win, giving Drexel the doubles win. In singles, the men’s team ended up claiming four of the six matches, though they were tested.
Junior Badr Ouabdelmoumen opened up play with a nail-biting straight set win, 6-4, 6-5. Fioravante won in straight sets in similarly tough play for 6-2, 6-5 wins. Rhazali praised his player’s meteoric rise on the team.
“Alex played No. 6 for us last year and this year he has played in the top three — he improved a lot,” Rhazali noted. “He is one of the hardest working kids I have ever seen. He has more experience now and he is working on mental toughness right now, which is building up from his big wins from the fall and this season.”
Senior Paul Stauskas won in three sets in a back-and-forth match ending with a 6-4 win in the final set. Then, Davis lost in three sets after his comeback bid failed in the final set, resulting in a 6-3 loss. The win against St. Francis pushed the team’s record to 4-1.
The Dragons had no time for rest as they needed to prepare for their match against Temple University on the morning of Feb. 12. Despite the quick turnaround, they were able to outlast their Temple counterparts in a 4-3 victory. Drexel picked up the point in doubles after teammates Dan Koehler and Skyler Davis won 6-4, which was followed up by a 6-2 victory from Badr Ouabdelmoumen and Daniel Hansen.
In singles play, the two squads were involved in back-and-forth, razor-close matches. Ouabelmoumen won in three sets; after opening the first match with a 6-5 win, he dropped the second set and cruised to a 6-1 match-clinching win in the third set. Xabier Saavedra eked out a straight set win against his opponent with a 6-4, 6-5 win. To make the match even more compelling, his teammate Dan Koehler won by the exact same score.
The close win puts the team’s record at 5-1 heading into the Army Shootout Feb. 22 in West Point, N.Y., where they will take on the United States Military Academy, Binghamton University and St. Bonaventure University.