How Did Syracuse Tennis Lose Momentum Over The Weekend?
By Sam Reis | @SamuelReisTV
Citrus TV Tennis Beat Reporter
Prior to Friday’s contest with Clemson, Syracuse had plenty of momentum on its side. The Orange had only suffered one loss in the first seven weeks of the season and was a team playing with plenty of confidence. That all changed over the weekend when SU fell on the road to Clemson and Georgia Tech. The Orange not only lost two matches in three days, but were dominated, losing both contests 6-1.
After such a strong start to the season, lackluster performances in the last two matches were not necessarily expected. With that being said, why did Syracuse struggle so much in its road trip down south? While there is not one simple answer, there is a notable factor that can be attributed to the sudden slump. That is fatigue and tiredness.
The end of March is approaching and SU is now eight weeks into the season. As mentioned throughout the course of the campaign, there are only six players on the roster, the minimum amount required. With such a small roster, fatigue was bound to become a real factor eventually. In a season that runs from January to at least the end of April, all of the matches played were likely to catch up to all of the players on the team. For the first time, it seemed like that was evident.
The fact that the team had no answers in its last two matches further suggests that fatigue likely played a significant role. Against Clemson, SU had a sluggish start, losing the doubles point. After that, the Tigers won every singles match with the exception of No. 6 singles where Ines Fonte won her match. Meanwhile, in the Georgia Tech match, Syracuse provided false hope after winning the doubles point. The Yellow Jackets took over in singles, winning on all six courts in dominant fashion.
Top singles players such as Zeynep Erman and Viktoriya Kanaptaskaya did not appear to have enough energy. Even Polina Kozyreva, who was undefeated in singles before the weekend, uncharacteristically surrendered a 5-0 first set lead to lose 7-5 en route to a three set defeat to her opponent on Clemson. This was a notable contrast to other duals earlier in the season when certain players managed to step up and fight hard for comeback victories.
A lot of lengthy and tight matches earlier in the season could also be playing into that tiredness. The Orange had a few grueling duals that lasted over three hours. In addition, no opponent in the ACC is an easy one. While Syracuse was ranked two spots higher than Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets had four singles players nationally ranked compared to just one for the Orange (Zeynep Erman). That impressive depth was on full display throughout singles play.
While the weeknd might have been disappointing, the Orange still boast an impressive 11-3 record and only dropped two spots to No. 27 in this week’s ITA rankings. Going forward, it will be vital to remain healthy and find the energy to win important matches down the road. The ACC Tournament is now a month away and Syracuse aims to get back on track with NCAA Tournament aspirations.
The final two home matches of the season come this weekend as Syracuse faces two of the conference’s top teams, No. 10 Duke on Friday and No. 1 North Carolina on Sunday.