Syracuse’s Natalie Novotna Deserves Respect

© Syracuse Athletics, Photo taken by Michael J. Okoniewski
Thursday, Mar 04, 2021 at 10:19 pm by Sports Editor

By Yaw Bonsu

CitrusTV Tennis Reporter

Syracuse (4-4, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) is eight duals into the spring season and while doubles play has been a huge issue and focal point this season, singles play is emerging as another big problem.

Viktoriya Kanapatskaya took down the 11th ranked player in the country, Natasha Subhash, 7-5, 6-4 in the No. 2 singles spot against No. 15 Virginia (6-2, 2-1 ACC) in SU’s biggest match of the season. With that said, this has not been a common theme this season.

Unlike doubles play, the Orange has only three players in the No. 1 singles spot, posting an 8-9 record in that slot this season. And the biggest problem with that is Natalie Novotna not being among those players.

Novotna transferred to Syracuse from Virginia Tech last year with the hopes of becoming SU’s best player, especially following the departure of Kim Hansen. Novotna played 61 singles matches with the Hokies, with all of them being at the No. 1 spot.

It’s worth noting that Novotna did end her time at Virginia Tech on a six-match losing streak in singles play, all of which came in straight sets. Despite that, shouldn’t Head Coach Younes Limam award her opportunity based on her entire body of work? Apparently, playing 61 top-line singles matches doesn’t seem to mean much at Drumlins.

Novotna is used to being the star player on her tennis team. She placed in the top 25 as a sophomore and hasn’t looked back since. However, Coach Limam hasn’t played her in the top spot. She holds 2-1 records in both the No.2 and No.3 spots but still hasn’t gotten the nod at number one.

With this SU team, anything is possible solely because of the fact that Coach Limam loves to experiment with his lineups. He mentioned after the team’s win against #15 Virginia that he has a plethora of players that can play in the top spots in both singles and doubles.

“We do have enough players that can play at a very high level in doubles,” Limam said. “Ideally we should have some same teams playing more.”

To him, that doesn’t mean much as he looks at matchups to determine who plays where, and not the fact that No.1 usually means your best player.

Let’s stack Novotna up against her teammates this season.

Guzal Yusupova has played 12 No. 1 singles matches since the beginning of last season. She is 3-9 in such matches, yet Head Coach Limam continues to give her opportunity at the number one spot, as opposed to the just as experienced, if not more, Natalie Novotna.

Nevertheless, Novotna deserves her opportunity to shine. If there is anyone that has proven they can handle playing with the best the country has to offer, it is Natalie Novotna. Syracuse has five ranked teams on the schedule this year, including three in the top-10. If the Orange want to squeak out wins, Coach Limam will have to adopt a system of consistency in his singles lineups. And that begins with Natalie Novotna at No. 1. | @yawbonsu27