The Drexel tennis teams trekked to Bethlehem, Pa., for their first official match in over three months against the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks Jan. 19. The teams ended up splitting the day as the women’s team won handedly 5-2, while the men lost by a razor-sharp margin of 4-3.
In the win for the women’s team, the doubles team of sophomore Erin Bowsher and freshman Lea Winkler, doubled up on their Lehigh opponents for a 6-3 win. Also, fellow teammates Nicole Pivonka and Fiorella Coria cruised through to a 6-2 victory. Among the notable highlights in the singles matches, senior Marcela Rosales narrowly lost in three sets with the last one going all the way to the 14th match point. Senior Alex Bell recovered from an opening set loss of 5-7, with two consecutive set wins.
The win put the team at a perfect 3-0 record for the season.
The men’s team dropped to 1-1 on the season after a 4-3 loss against the Mountain Hawks. In their doubles matches, sophomore Xabier Saavedra and junior Alex Fioravante eked out a 6-5 set win. They took the doubles win when juniors Badr Ouabdelmoumen and Daniel Hansen downed their opponents 6-1.
However, their fortunes quickly reversed when it came to the singles matches. Ouabdelmoumen and senior Paul Stauskas were the only members of the team to post victories, winning in straight sets respectively. Saavedra’s singles match stood out the most because he jumped out on a 1-0 lead after winning the first set easily, 6-1, but then dropped two consecutive sets by the same 6-3 scores.
Head coach Mehdi Rhazali looked to the positives in the match: “If you compare last year to this year, we are the same team, same kids.”
“We saw a lot of experience from them and saw a lot of development. Last year we lost 6-1, this year we lost 4-3, and then we literally could have won since we were involved in two tight matches but the luck wasn’t on our side,” he said.
Already into his second season as head coach, Rhazali was asked what he has instituted in the program to make it uniquely his team.
“It’s a product you have to sell and the product is myself,” he said, as he continued to point out how he tries to set the example for the team. “[My assistant and I] work really hard, we are here six hours a day in the Armory … and the kids see that. They see you working six hours in the armory; they go to class and come back and see that, and think, ‘You know this guy is serious and we got to pick it up.’”
The women’s team heads off to an away match against the University of Pennsylvania Jan. 31, which takes place only a few blocks from Drexel’s campus. The men’s team looks to regroup from the tough loss when they host St. Francis College Jan. 26.