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Monday, Feb 18, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Knutson Makes History as Syracuse Tennis Dominates Harvard

By Brad Klein

CitrusTV Tennis Beat Reporter

On Sunday, Gabriela Knutson defeated Erica Oosterhout 6-4, 6-4 in first singles. But this wasn’t just any win for Knutson. Sunday’s singles win was her 162nd career victory at SU. That puts her in sole possession of second place on the Orange’s all-time wins list. She is 40 victories behind Jana Strnadova for the most.

“I don’t want to say ‘it’s just another win’, but I just want to keep going and going. There’s not really a goal. For me the best goal is the rankings, of course, and just to be a good supporter for the team,” Knutson said. “At the end of the day, you’re still on the team. It could be 140th win, my 170th, if the team doesn’t win then at the end of the day does it really matter? No.”

Knutson and the Orange had a winless weekend in Seattle for the ITA Indoor Championships. They had lost four straight duel matches, Sonya Trescheva was nursing an ankle sprain, and the team desperately needed to get back on track. A weekend at home was the perfect remedy.

Syracuse (6-4, 0-2 Atlantic Coast) snapped their losing skid with a much-needed win against Colorado on Friday night. It was their first win at Drumlins Country Club since mid-January. This win gave SU the confidence they needed to pull off the 6-1 victory over Harvard (6-4, 0-0 Ivy).

The Orange took the doubles point with wins from Miranda Ramirez/Gabriela Knutson and Guzal Yusupova/Dina Hegab. Ramirez set the tone early on, winning every point for her side in the first game.

“It was my day. I was moving well; I was playing well. All of my shots were going exactly where I wanted to,” Ramirez said after her 6-2 doubles victory.

This is the second consecutive time that Syracuse earned the doubles point after going through a five-match dry spell. Sofya Golubovskaya also took to the doubles court alongside Maria Tritou. Their match went unfinished, but the two were on the brink of defeat, down 1-5, when their match was interrupted.

Golubovskaya’s shoulder was wrapped with ice immediately after the match, and she watched Ramirez replace her on the second singles court. The Russian also missed her singles appearance against Colorado due to “bicep tendonitis,” according to the strength and conditioning coach.

“It’s a long season and we’re just trying to manage her throughout the matches,” head coach Younes Limam said. “The reality of things is that every team at this time of year is a little banged up, and you’re just trying to do the best you can to move forward.”

Two injured players didn’t stop the Orange though. Miranda Ramirez played up from the third singles court, and dominated Harvard’s Rachel Lim with a 6-1, 6-4 straight set victory. Lim is a left-handed player; she was forcing Ramirez to use her backhand throughout the match. What Lim did not know is that Ramirez’s one-handed backhand is one of her strengths.

“It’s always a slightly different game when I play against a lefty, but I’ve seen it so many times before so at this point I am kind of in a routine for this type of player,” Ramirez said. “I was able to adjust right off the bat and it didn’t faze me at all.”

Ramirez wasn’t the only one who dominated in singles. Four of Syracuse’s five singles victories were came in straight sets. Libi Mesh finished off her weekend with a clean sweep on the sixth singles court in relief of the injured Sonya Trescheva. She defeated Anna Li 6-2, 6-1, and Dina Hegab bested Chelsea Williams 6-2, 6-3.

The Orange will take their new-found momentum to Louisville on Friday to begin a four game ACC road trip.

bwklein@syr.edu | @BradKlein15