No. 10 NC State Thrashes No. 28 Syracuse 5-2
By Brad Klein
CitrusTV Tennis Reporter
Head Coach Younes Limam and the No. 28 Syracuse Orange (11-8, 4-6 Atlantic Coast) were scheduled with one of the toughest weekends possible. On Friday, they lost to No. 2 UNC 5-2. After the match, Limam insisted that the Orange were better after the loss, and that they could build off of their mistakes.
Syracuse, however, was unable to recover for Sunday’s match against No. 10 NC State (19-3, 9-1 ACC) with a nearly identical 5-2 loss. The loss caps a four-game gauntlet against ranked opponents, which has given Syracuse a lot to think about.
“This weekend is a learning process. We’re going to take positives from it… we’re going to get better from it,” Limam said. “I do believe that you learn a lot more when you lose matches.”
Like the Tar Heels, the Wolfpack are sitting pretty at the top of the ACC with the help of a stacked roster featuring ranked sides of the net on four courts. They are scorching right now, sporting their highest ranking in program history. NC State imposed their will on Syracuse early on in pursuit of their eighth ranked win of the year.
It started when No. 9 doubles duo Anna Rogers and Alana Smith clipped No. 71 Gabriela Knutson and Miranda Ramirez. Syracuse’s pair are the reigning All-Americans, and much of their success from last season came from their style of play. Earlier this season, the two actually compared themselves to a men’s team in the way that they crowd the net and force the issue. But for Knutson and Ramirez, playing Rogers and Smith was like looking in a mirror. Both of them were big, strong, and aggressive, which is something the Orange have not seen this season.
“We did our best and we tried to implement our own games, and be aggressive, and kind of counteract what they’re doing,” Ramirez said.
NC State left the crowd shell shocked in their doubles performance, which was capped off by Dina Hegab and Guzal Yusupova’s 6-3 loss to Liz Norman and Bianca Moldovan.
The Wolfpack kept it going in singles as well. Moldovan took advantage of Sonya Trescheva’s singles struggles with a 6-0, 6-2 beat-down. Trescheva has lost five of her last six singles matches dating back to late January.
On the second singles court, Sofya Golubovskaya was given a tall order. She was tasked with No. 70 Alana Smith. Golubovskaya was coming off a loss to another ranked opponent in the UNC match, and she was unable to force three sets in her 6-2, 6-4 loss to Smith.
But it was when No. 40 Gabriela Knutson lost on the first singles court that the Wolfpack officially clinched the duel. Knutson fell in straight sets to NC State’s swiss army knife, No. 31 Anna Rogers, 7-5, 6-4. The two battled, but Rogers ultimately prevailed in a frustrating match for SU’s senior.
Dina Hegab lost in straight sets after the clincher 6-4, 6-2. Junior Miranda Ramirez, on the other hand, locked up a huge win for herself over No. 116 Adriana Reami. Ramirez has played extremely well lately, losing just one of her last seven singles matches.
Fellow Junior Guzal Yusupova attracted a lot of attention throughout her singles match, despite the duel already being decided. She missed singles during the last two crucial ACC duels with a lower back injury. She shined, however, in her return to the lineup with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Norman.
Amidst their recent losses, the Orange have their heads held high. Guzal Yusupova says the team will continue to fight against every opponent, regardless of ranking.
“I see fire in their eyes,” Yusupova said.
Syracuse gets a bit of a break on Friday against unranked Pittsburgh at 3 p.m.
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