February 22, 2013 by kofi.biney
Mehdi Rhazali, head coach of the Drexel tennis team, is in a very good mood. The first-year head coach and former Drexel standout has every reason to be, given that the Drexel men’s and women’s tennis teams are both off to great starts this season. The men’s team is on a four-game winning streak and is 5-1 on the season, while the women’s team is undefeated at 6-0 on the season with three 7-0 shutouts and only five individual losses all season.
“Overall, we have played really well,” Rhazali said. “Our practices are very efficient, and the results are showing up during matches.”
This efficiency has had both teams beating their opponents and outlasting them in particularly grueling matches, such as the one the men played Feb.15 against city rival Temple University. The 4-3 win was the first for Drexel against Temple since March 2008.
Despite losing two doubles matches and the third going unfinished, they came back furiously in singles play, winning four out of six matches. Sophomore Dan Koehler and junior Alex Fioravante both won their matches in straight sets at the No. 4 and No. 6 positions, respectively. Their best win came at the top spot, when sophomore Badr Ouabdelmoumen defeated Temple’s Kacper Rams 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. There was also a win against Temple for Drexel co-Athlete of the Week Skyler Davis. Davis, a junior, won his match in straight sets against the Owls and also in Drexel’s 6-1 win against Saint Francis University the following day.
“It was great to get that win against them,” Rhazali said. “In the past, we had lost to them badly, by like 6-1 or 6-2. So this time we decided to go in with a different mentality. All of the matches were really competitive, really tight, and clearly things went well for us in the end.”
Not to be outdone, the women have equaled their male companions in terms of great performances, yet for the women the wins are coming under relatively easier circumstances. The team dropped only two individual matches in its 4-2 win Feb. 10 against Morgan State University and 7-0 blanking of St. Francis Feb. 16.
“It was really impressive to see them play as well as they did in those matches,” Rhazali said of the women’s team. “I was expecting them to be much closer because the likes of St. Francis have improved from previous seasons, but our team is really working hard, and it’s showing. There’s a high intensity of play, a high level of confidence.”
Their recent play is all the more impressive given the injuries they’ve dealt with this season.
The teams travel to Maryland for games against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Feb. 23 and the United States Naval Academy Feb. 24. Rhazali said UMBC is the team his players should focus on.
“[UMBC is] a very tough squad, and it will not be easy for us going up against them. I’m still confident that we can win, though.”