Syracuse Walks the Tightrope, Improves to 2-0 on the Season
By Cameron Ezeir
CitrusTV Tennis Beat Reporter
RICHMOND, VA. — Syracuse Tennis took the trip down South to Virginia to face two unfamiliar Atlantic 10 opponents to begin their 2020 campaign. The Orange, with both veteran experience and a couple of new faces entered the Thalhimer Tennis Center with the goal of starting 2-0 for the third straight year. With that in mind, SU dominated Richmond in their match yesterday, winning 6-1, but slowed down a little against the defending Atlantic 10 champions today. The VCU Rams (1-1, 0-0 Atlantic 10) entered the match off an impressive 4-0 win over Temple, and looked to spoil SU’s visit to Richmond. However, the weapons of the Orange and their perseverance throughout proved too much for the home side, as Syracuse (2-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won the match, 5-2.
However, this match was far more than a 5-2 scoreline, as the intricacies and individual efforts led the Orange to victory.
Last year, SU was 4-13 when losing the pivotal doubles point at the beginning of the match. To explain further, whoever wins two out of the three doubles matches played, secures a point that gives them a leg up when the singles matches ensue. If one wins the doubles point, they only need three singles wins rather than four. This is why one of the highlighted narratives in this match is perseverance. After the tandem of Sofya Golubovskaya and Zeynep Erman lost for the second straight day, this time by the score of 6-1, the two other teams had to step up in order for the Orange to gain some breathing room. Sofya Treshcheva and Kim Hansen did just that, dominating the #1 doubles team of the Rams, 6-1, and further proving why their No. 48 ranking was far from a surprise. This created drama as the score was knotted up at one apiece.
When in doubt, leave the pressure up to your two best players, and that is the formula that SU took advantage of. After Golubovskaya and Erman dropped their set yesterday evening at number two doubles, Head Coach Younes Limam placed them at the three spot, and his two seniors in the number two spot. This meant harder competition for Miranda Ramirez and Guzal Yusupova, but nothing that they could not handle. The dynamic duo backed up their performance against Richmond with a thrilling finish in a tiebreak. After allowing Melissa Ifidzhen and Kanako Yano to crawl their way back into the match, the No. 64 and 80 ranked singles players put down the gauntlet, winning 7-3 in the tiebreak and securing the doubles point for SU.
With a 1-0 lead and SU’s potent singles game still on tap, a 2-0 start to the season looked well in range. However, the Rams were not going to go away without a fight, starting with number one singles. After an impressive fall stint and ranked within the top 70, Guzal Yusupova ran into a brick wall, or in tennis terms, a sturdy net. Her opponent not only was an ITA first team all american as a sophomore last year, but earned accolades such as Atlantic 10 Most Outstanding Performer, All-Atlantic 10 first team, and defeated three ranked opponents (No. 10, No. 27, No. 57) as well. Frankly, Yusupova faced one of the most surprising names on an unranked team and it showed. She dropped both sets convincingly, losing 6-3, 6-1.
Tied up at one apiece, the Orange showed out in back-to-back affairs. Sofya Treshcheva replicated her performance from just a day ago, dominating in straight sets (6-3, 6-2) at number four singles. Treshcheva’s success rubbed off on her doubles partner Kim Hansen, who is still undefeated as a member of the Syracuse Orange. She crushed Melissa Ifidzhen in the first set and bounced back in the third after a poor performance in the second set (6-1, 3-6, 6-1). These two victories put the Cuse up 3-1, one win away from moving to 2-0. Nevertheless, the Rams kept lowering their horns and charged forward.
After dominating the first set 6-2, Sofya Golubovskaya dropped the next two sets (3-6, 4-6) to VCU’s Gabriela Ana-Maria Davidescu. All of a sudden, a clear path to victory was now separated by a tightrope. An obstacle that Miranda Ramirez started and finished. The senior, who lost her singles match yesterday, embraced the pressure and the challenge at hand, pulling out a three set (7-6(4), 5-7, 6-2) decisive win for SU. It was only fitting that Miranda Ramirez, after a disappointing loss a day ago, served a perfect third set and a win on a silver platter for the Orange.
Now, Younes Limam and his squad sit at 2-0 after a 5-2 (Polina Kozyreva’s lead was considered a victory even though she did not officially finish the match) win over VCU and head back home to play nine straight at Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse, NY. The team has five days off before facing off against the 0-3 Cornell Big Red on Sunday, January 26th.
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