The Drexel University tennis teams split the opening games of their back-to-backs against the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh University. The men were burned in the first game, losing 5 to 2. They were in the hole early in the singles matches as senior Badr Ouabdelmoumen lost the first match in three sets. The loss was compounded when Ouabdelmoumen sustained an injury that kept him out against Lafayette College.
As the game unfolded, it became apparent that they would be on the losing end of these tough three-set matches. Two of the next three singles games would see Drexel players Alex Fioravante and Xabier Saavedra fall in three sets. The Dragons would manage to salvage one singles match when freshman Hamza Laalej won in 6-3 straight sets. They would get the doubles point, but not before clawing out a close 7-6 win in the third and final doubles match.
The women’s side managed to duplicate the same 5-2 score but in their favor for the victory. Things didn’t look good early as Nicole Pivonka lost in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2. That wouldn’t prove to be the norm as the women would win four of the next five matches ending with straight set sweeps by Lea Winkler and Kendra Bunch in the last two. Even with the win at hand entering the doubles matches, the team didn’t let up, as they still swept all three doubles matches.
The teams didn’t have much time to rest, as they were back at it the following day against Lafayette. Head coach Mehdi Rhazali reflected on the quick turnaround: “Lehigh was a tough loss. It did hurt because this is the year where we had a chance to break the losing record against them. Matches were very close but lacked the focus and the mental toughness. We had a meeting about it, and we had a good quality tennis session before we played Lafayette. We had to talk more strategic and stick to the plan.”
He continued with his plan for the match against Lafayette: “We had 20 hours between the matches, so it was enough to recover and rest. The goal was to win, and we wanted it more. The energy was much better, and everyone looked confident on the court. Now we have some time to prepare for [University of Maryland, Baltimore County].”
The men’s team rebounded from the previous loss nicely by shutting down Lafayette, 4-1. The Dragons opened up the first three singles matches with wins highlighted by senior Alex Fioravante, filling in for the injured Ouabdelmoumen, shutting down his opponent in straight 6-1 sets. They claimed the fourth point in doubles when doubles teammates Kashyap Ashok and Dan Koehler won handedly 6-1.
The win puts the Dragons at 7-2 for the season. The next game is this Saturday, Feb. 14, against UMBC.
The women’s team pitched a shutout in their game against Lafayette. They won all four of their singles matches in straight sets, highlighted by Ryshena Providence’s complete 6-0 shut outs. They dominated their doubles match, as Lea Winkler and Kendra Bunch shut out their Lafayette opponents, 6-0. The women will also face UMBC Feb. 14, trying to add to their perfect 7-0 record.