No. 32 Syracuse Completes Comeback to Defeat No. 15 Florida State 4-3
By Brad Klein
Tennis Beat Reporter
Syracuse returned to Drumlins Country Club on Sunday with a lot to prove. Despite being ranked 32nd in the country and winning six of their last eight matches, the Orange lost six of their first seven matchups against ranked opponents.
Today was a different story as Syracuse (11-6, 4-4 Atlantic Coast) came back from behind to knock off No. 15 Florida State (14-4, 6-2 ACC) 4-3.
The Seminoles led 3-1 in the best of seven dual, ready to tomahawk chop the Orange. Florida State owned the momentum after sweeping doubles and Nandini Das and Ariana Rahmanparast dominated Libi Mesh and Sonya Trescheva on the fourth and sixth singles courts, respectively. But just when FSU thought it had SU on its heels, Syracuse regained its balance.
“[Assistant] Coach [Shelley George] was telling me just to stay calm, and to not focus on the past,” SU sophomore Sofya Golubovskaya said. “Just to try focusing on the present.”
This message was transmitted to the entire team, and quickly replaced the temporary sense of panic. Dina Hegab capitalized on the fifth singles court for the Orange with a 6-1, 6-4 win. Shortly after, Miranda Ramirez won her match, capped off by a thrilling 8-6 tiebreak.
“It was very nerve-wracking, very stressful,” Ramirez said. “I just had to remember to stay calm, play my shots, play my game, knowing that I have done this before, I have been in these types of pressure situations before, so just try to finish the match.”
Ramirez’s victory tied the dual at 3 apiece, and all eyes shifted to the third singles court, where Sofya Golubovskaya faced her biggest challenge on an American court. This was the Russian’s first time playing the decisive match for Syracuse.
Golubovskaya traded the first two sets with Florida State’s Ana Oparenovic, then broke Oparenovic in the third game after trailing 40-0. The sophomore took a 2-1 lead. That looked like the turning point, even Golubovskaya admitted so after the match. Oparenovic, however, responded in a big way.
She broke Golubovskaya twice to seize a 4-2 advantage. Golubovskaya began to doubt herself. Her teammates subdued those doubts with the overwhelming “Let’s Go Orange!” chants that the fans quickly joined in on. The unwritten rules of tennis etiquette were momentarily scrapped. The result became all that mattered.
“When she is playing, we all feel like we’re playing too. So we’re just as into it as she is,” Ramirez said. “We want her to win so badly, we want her to win for the team, we want her to win for herself. So, it was really great for all of us to get into it and fully back our teammate.”
Golubovskaya used that extra energy to propel her to a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 marathon victory.
“They helped me so much,” Golubovskaya said. “It was amazing to play like this, where everyone is supporting you and everyone is watching.”
Golubovskaya said she truly left everything she had on the court, showing an aggressive side to her game that had largely been untapped. Cross court winners and drop shots inches over the net highlighted her comeback.
Head Coach Younes Limam says this win over a ranked opponent could be a turning point in the season.
“I’m glad for our team with all the hard work they’ve put in to see that we have seen it but we need to see it consistently,” Limam said. “We’re out there. We’re not playing just to have a good match. We’re putting ourselves in positions to be successful.”
Syracuse’s win may have built up some much needed momentum with four of its six remaining matches being scheduled against ranked opponents. The Orange’s next match is an even tougher test. Top-ranked North Carolina comes to Central New York on Friday at 4 p.m.
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