Postseason Outlook For Syracuse Tennis
By Sam Reis | @SamuelReisTV
Citrus TV Tennis Beat Reporter
Just like that, the postseason has arrived on the collegiate tennis calendar. For Syracuse, a fairytale start to the campaign turned into a disastrous end to the regular season. SU impressively won its first nine matches and stood at 11-1 through its first 12 contests. The Orange were ranked as high as No. 16 in the ITA rankings at one point. Then everything started to unravel. Losses to Clemson and Georgia Tech sparked the beginning of an eight-match losing streak as the ’Cuse finished the regular season 11-9.
As the season progressed, injuries began to pile up and that has significantly hindered the Orange amidst their losing skid. Syracuse had a player retire from a match in two of its duals and has played with just five players on three separate occasions.
While momentum is not on the side of SU and staying healthy has been an issue, the good news is that every team makes the ACC Tournament. After a 4-1 start to conference play, the Orange finished 4-9 and landed the No. 10 seed. The ‘Cuse takes on the No. 7 seed Georgia Tech in the second round on Thursday.
Syracuse and Georgia Tech squared off earlier in the season. The Yellow Jackets came out on top 6-1 at home. While SU started off on a positive note by taking the doubles point, GT completely dominated the rest of the way, winning all six singles matches.
Georgia Tech is currently ranked 20th in the ITA rankings and has solid depth on its team. Four singles players are nationally ranked, including No. 13 Carol Lee. Syracuse certainly enters the rematch as the underdog and that will especially be the case if it is still without Zeynep Erman, its top singles player. The senior has been sidelined for the last two matches and with a four-day turnaround between Sunday’s regular-season finale and Thursday’s dual, it remains to be seen if she will return. The senior’s absence proved to be costly over the weekend and having to once more play with five players and forfeit a doubles and singles match as a result is the last thing the Orange can afford.
Just how crucial is Thursday’s battle with Georgia Tech? It is really tough to say. Just one month ago it seemed as though Syracuse was well on its way to making the NCAA Tournament. Now things are a bit more complicated. As it stands, the Orange are 39th in the ITA rankings. While 64 teams qualify for the NCAA Tournament, there are only so many at-large bids that the committee can hand out to the ACC. For reference, eight teams from the ACC got into the NCAA Tournament last season.
Considering Syracuse is the No. 10 seed for the conference tournament, getting past Georgia Tech and reaching the quarterfinals could be massive. That would mark just the second victory against a top-25 opponent this season. The only one so far came against Miami in February.
If the ‘Cuse does pull off the upset, the No. 2 seed Duke would be the next test less than 24 hours later. While an eight-match losing streak has put Syracuse in a difficult position, it is all about taking it one match at a time, beginning Thursday with Georgia Tech. Will the results down in Cary, NC determine whether or not SU’s 2023 campaign extends beyond the conference tournament? We’ll simply have to wait and see …