Syracuse 4, Clemson 0 – Revisiting “The Dual In The Dark”
Syracuse, NY – This past Sunday in Drumlins was the most unique tennis dual I’d argue in the entirety of NCAA tennis this season.
The afternoon started out perfectly normal. The national anthem played, the lineups were introduced, and the doubles players took their courts. Both teams were looking for their first conference win of the season. Sonya Trescheva and Shiori Ito were undefeated on Doubles Court #1 before falling to Clemson’s Cristina Mayorova and Daniella Medvedeva, 6-3. Viktoria Kanaptskaya and Ines Fonte leveled things up for the Orange with a 6-2 win on Court #3, which left it up to Miyuka Kimoto and Polina Kozyreva. The freshman-junior duo were coming off a 7-5 loss to the 18th best pair in the nation against Georgia Tech, but found their footing in a 6-3 tiebreak to seal the Orange’s ninth doubles point in 11 duals.
Ines Fonte was the only one to make quick work of her opponent in singles, winning her match on Court #6 6-4, 6-0. Then again, that wasn’t much of a surprise; Fonte has only lost one match all season on that singles court. But as afternoon became early evening, there was no such thing as an easy point. Rallies were grueling and long, and the evening looked like it was going to become a marathon. Every single other player entered into a third set, and the tennis showed no signs of stopping. That was, until it was cut short.
First, it was just a couple of lights here and there. Drumlins Tennis Center became a little bit spooky, as some courts became slightly darker than others. To this day, I’m not exactly sure what happened. Players and coaches alike stood around waiting for the officials’ direction. The officials told everyone to take a breather (which I don’t think many of the players would have complained about, given the length of their matches). Then a couple lights started to come back on. Slowly but surely, the place got a little bit brighter each minute.
Until it didn’t. In an instant and without warning, Drumlins was plunged into the upside-down, becoming a pitch black shell of a tennis facility.
Drumlins was dark for an hour and a half. 90 minutes of players waiting around for something to happen, coaches looking for answers, and the front office flicking light switches in vain. Drumlins Country Club members who had reserved courts for well after when the dual was supposed to conclude were turned away at the door – after all, there was nowhere to watch tennis, let alone play. But after all of that, the lights came back on, and the tennis resumed.
The officials decided to play each match one by one on the same court, so that the lighting was constant for all players. First up was Viktoriya Kanaptskaya, who completed her match in record time. Funnily enough, she was actually at match point before the evening was halted. She came out, returned a serve like it was nothing, and won 2-6, 6-1, 6-4. All of a sudden, the Orange were a point away.
That put the pressure on freshman Miyuka Kimoto. After dropping her first game, she found the strength to win back-to-back games behind the support of her teammates to force match point. With the poise of a veteran, she clinched SU’s first ACC win, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.
Both Kanapatskaya and Kimoto’s opponents were ranked in the Top 125 in the nation for singles, and by this point, both coaches had seen enough. The dual was to end with just four points on the scoreboard, and all of them in Syracuse’s favor. The Orange had emerged victorious in The Dual in the Dark.
After back-to-back weekend doubleheaders, the Orange have earned a week’s rest before traveling to face #1 ranked UNC on March 18. Follow along @CitrusTVSports for live updates from the dual.