Syracuse Tennis Stumbles, Drops Two Straight at Drumlins
By Cameron Ezeir
CitrusTV Tennis Beat Reporter
Entering the weekend of February 21st, SU was scorching. The Orange were off to a 6-0 start, which is their second-best in program history. On top of that, the Cuse clocked in at No. 25 in the most recent ITA polls. It seemed that all was going well for Syracuse. But that’s when things took a turn for the worst.
On Friday, the 25th ranked Orange hosted the Columbia Lions. Forty-eight hours later, Syracuse welcomed the 10th ranked Duke Blue Devils to Drumlins.
With a chance to tie their best start in program history, SU looked to pull out a statement win against a team that was ranked a year ago in Columbia. The preseason 48th ranked doubles — Kim Hansen and Sonya Treshcheva — got their mojo back after a 3-3 start as a duo, crushing their opponent 6-1. However, SU has dropped its last two doubles points, and that trend continued.
Sofya Golubovskaya, fresh off a left shoulder injury, battled with Zeynep Erman in a tight 6-4 loss. Now, the pressure was on the first court and the two leaders of this team. Seniors Miranda Ramirez and Guzal Yusupova went toe-to-toe at the Doubles 1 slot but fell for the third straight duel as a pair, 6-4 as well. These results weren’t the most concerning, though, as Syracuse was 3-0 when losing the doubles point on the season.
With this in mind, the Cuse’s six healthy players — in the absence of Polina Kozyreva — needed four singles wins to continue perfection. Less than 20 minutes later, health was the eventual downfall for SU. Golubovskaya re-aggravated a left shoulder injury she suffered earlier on in the season. The junior was forced to retire from her match, blossoming the Orange’s deficit to 2. But as Syracuse has done all year long, the comeback was on.
Ramirez and Hansen both won their seventh straight singles match and dominated in straight sets to tie the duel up at two apiece. But for the first time in SU’s 2020 campaign, that’s where the comeback came to an abrupt halt.
Just as new life emerged in Drumlins, Sonya Treshcheva and Guzal Yusupova were outlasted in straight sets. Yusupova, ranked 77th in the country in singles, dropped her 4th singles match in her past 7. Treshcheva now sits at 2-3 in singles play. This ended Syracuse’s perfect 6-0 start as the Lions outclassed the Orange in every manor, picking up a pivotal in-state victory.
Two days later, SU had to pocket the loss and turn their focus to their toughest opponent thus far: the Duke Blue Devils. Duke started the season as the 5th ranked team in the country and, after a couple of hiccups, fell to #10. Nonetheless, they sported the 7th and 30th ranked singles players in all of college tennis, which would be no walk in the park for SU to face.
A Sunday matchup for Syracuse started with some great news. Although Golubovskaya was sidelined, Polina Kozyreva was cleared to make a return from a left ankle injury that she suffered against St. Johns. But with the good comes the bad. Kozyreva was kept out of doubles play, so the Cuse sent out only two doubles teams. This did not bode well against a top squad in the ACC as Ramirez/Yusupova, and Hansen/Treshcehva fought hard, but ultimately both fell 6-3.
For the fourth consecutive duel, the Orange headed into singles play down 1-0, and the dominance of Duke never wavered. The Blue Devils won five out of the six first sets and ended Hansen and Ramirez’s perfect singles starts to the season. Ramirez (1-6, 2-6), Hansen (6-7, 1-6), Treshcheva (4-6, 3-6), and Erman (1-6, 3-6) lost in straight sets. SU was clearly outmatched and had no answer for Duke’s dominance.
Now sitting at 6-2, SU needs to reevaluate their season as a whole before their final 11 duels of the season. Every team struggles during a stretch and loses a couple of matches here and there. However, not a lot of those teams have to climb a steep hill for the rest of the year. Syracuse is scheduled to take on 10 ranked teams in their final 11 regular season duels. In specific, five are in the top 10 and nine rank in the top 20 in yesterday’s ITA polls.
One might look at these losses as a positive for the Orange. A time to regroup, practice, and get healthier. But the reality is, Syracuse is out of the top 25 after a mere week, and they now have to host No. 15, Notre Dame tomorrow, who drastically jumped 17 spots in that exact time.
Having ample time to take a step back and realize what needs tweaking is one thing. Looking ahead and seeing that the top 3 teams in college tennis await in the upcoming weeks is another. Overall, Syracuse needs to put these losses behind them, start playing as a unit, and stick with the formula that led them to a blistering 6-0 start.
email@example.com | @EzeirCameron