8-4 With 8 to Play: How Syracuse can end the Season Strong.

Saturday, Mar 09, 2024 at 10:06 am by Sports Editor

Josh Richardson | @joshrichy_04

Syracuse Tennis wrapped up conference play with a 6-1 win over Buffalo Thursday afternoon. That puts the Orange four games above .500 with eight games remaining in their season. Through twelve matches last year, SU sat 11-1 before losing its last 10. So how can Syracuse at LEAST match that win total, if not go on a run of its own? 

As long as it stays in the ACC, Syracuse is always going to be matching up with powerhouses during conference play. According to this week’s ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) rankings, 12 teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference hold spots in the Top 75. Don’t worry Syracuse is one… sitting at 51st, the second lowest of all conference opponents. There are three teams in the top 6: Virginia, North Carolina and NC State. The best thing Syracuse can do is play its game, no one else’s. Play with assertiveness, close games and sets strong, and most importantly win doubles. 

The X-Factor for this team throughout the remainder of this season is absolutely Emilie Elde. What she brings to the table for head coach Younes Limam is something only she can: A plug-and-play option who always looks to win. Elde has paired with five different teammates during doubles this season and played at all three levels. The best part? It’s not her versatility that makes her so great. It’s her play style. After the thrilling three-set win over Clemson two weeks ago, Elde explained how she never tried to get away from playing aggressive because that’s when she is at her best. Finding and hitting her marks, and lots of forehands. Having someone on your team who doesn’t play not to lose, but plays to win is something that is rare to find. Harnessing that talent and mindset can help bring Syracuse a long way down the stretch of the season.

But most importantly, it’s all about health. Last year, a multitude of injuries completely derailed any hopes of a successful conclusion to a brilliant start. Keeping everyone not just healthy, but available is a key factor to picking up wins or even pulling off an upset or two as we approach April. So far this season, there have been some minor injuries, keeping players out for a match or two, but nothing so severe that those same players would miss the following weekend of action. It helps to have a little more wiggle room than last year also. The Orange fielded a roster of just six, the minimum you can have for college tennis. This season, SU holds eight, so if someone is hurt for an extended period of time, there won’t be any automatic forfeits like there were in the tail end of last season.