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Sunday, Jan 21, 2018 at 4:15 pm

SU Tennis Rolls Through Niagara in Season Opener

Syracuse Tennis had no problem sweeping Niagara 7-0 at Drumlins Country Club on Sunday. CitrusTV Beat Reporter Gill Gross spoke with Sofya Golubovskaya about her victorious collegiate debut.

Syracuse tennis head coach Younes Limam has never lost a season opener since taking over at Syracuse in 2014. That continued on Sunday with a 7-0 sweep of Niagara at Drumlins Country Club. The Orange did not drop a single set in the match.

Sophomore standout Miranda Ramirez was left out of the lineup, but Limam confirmed after the match that Ramirez is indeed healthy. Resting Ramirez gave some others a chance to contribute in the season opener. Ramirez’s usual doubles partner, Gabriela Knutson, was also left out of the doubles lineup.

“I’m really happy that some of my teammates stepped up and were able to play and win just as they should,” Knutson said.

The substitutions succeeded for Syracuse, which dropped just two games in its doubles matches.

Freshman Sofya Golubovskaya paired up with Anna Shkudun at first doubles and breezed through a 6-0 win. Dina Hageb and Masha Tritou clinched the doubles point for the Orange with a 6-0 victory of their own.

Syracuse found the same rhythm in its singles matches. Kunutson, currently the No. 38 singles player in ITF rankings, led the way at first singles with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Niagara’s Stella Peisakhova.

But the most impressive result of the day came at second singles. Just a week after arriving at SU for the Spring Semester, Sofya Golubovskaya shined in a 6-1, 6-1 match victory. Golubovskaya, from Russia, thumped her backhand with enormous pace; piling up winners from that wing.

“That’s my shot,” Golubovskava said. “Always since my childhood. I just hit it and every coach has said ‘wow.’”

Although the outcome was never in doubt, the Orange saw plenty of benefit stemming from the match.

“It’s really important for us to kind of get back into rhythm and learn how to cheer for each other and play with the pressure of the audience near us,” Knutson said, “It’s really nice to feel that support and atmosphere coming into the season because when we are on the road we kind of take that with us.”

“I thought our team did a very good job of not taking our opponent lightly,” Limam added, “It’s never easy to get that first match in and just get rid of the nerves and everything else that goes with it.”

Last season, Syracuse began the year with five road games. The Orange lost the final four games of that stretch. This season, Younes has seemingly adjusted his non-conference scheduling strategy with more games at home. Syracuse will play their next two matches at home starting with Colgate next Friday and Colombia on Sunday.