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Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 7:17 pm

SU Tennis Suffers First Home Loss Against Wake Forest

By Gill Gross

SYRACUSE, N.Y.–All eyes rested on Court 5. Seven of eight Syracuse players lined up shoulder to shoulder, watching as Miranda Ramirez attempted to win the match for the Orange. It was a third-set tiebreak for the win.

Ramirez thought she saw the light, up 5-2 in the tie break. She shuffled to her left to hit her signature shot, an inside-out forehand. It was struck well and destined for the far sideline if not for the ball striking the netcord and deflecting skyward. The ball landed out and represented the turning point in the tiebreak. No. 88 Eliza Omirou won four of the next five points, the tiebreak and the match.

“That is definitely the most inconvenient netcord I’ve ever dealt with in my entire life,” Ramirez said.

Omirou’s effort was the finishing touch on a 4-3 victory for the No. 16 Demon Deacons (14-4, 3-2 Atlantic Coastal Conference). The match ended the Orange’s (11-3, 3-3 Atlantic Coastal Conference) undefeated home record.

Syracuse fell behind right away in doubles. No. 20 Knutson/Ramirez dropped their fourth consecutive match in a 2-6 loss to Wake’s No. 31 Davis/Carter. Hegab/Tritou also took their second loss of the weekend, 3-6 against Meredith/Ulyaschenko. Golubovskya/Shkudun were likely about to seal a doubles match for Syracuse, but were stopped while leading 5-2.

Nothing was straight forward for the Orange on Sunday with the exception of Dina Hegab’s match at sixth singles. Hegab beat Alexis Franco 6-2, 6-1. The junior remains unbeaten at Drumlins.

With the match tied at one, Syracuse and Wake Forest exchanged blows. Sofya Golubovskya gave the Orange the lead with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Chandler Carter. The lead was short lived for SU. Anna Shkudun fell to fellow Ukranian Anna Ulyashchenko 6-4, 7-5, deadlocking the duel at two.

In the third match, No. 11 Gabriela Knutson and No. 36 Emma Davis went the distance in front of an attentive Drumlins crowd. Knutson was scorching hot in the first set, ripping the cover off the ball on her way to a 6-0 set victory. Davis answered in the second, playing steady tennis and awaiting Knutson errors. It paid dividends in a 6-3 set victory.

The third set was tense throughout. Knutson won eight straight points from 4-5 to earn a chance to serve for the match, but in a sudden swing of momentum, Knutson was broken. That set up a thrid set tiebreak where Knutson continued her success, winning 7-5. The junior is now 4-1 in breakers this season.

“It definitely was stressful but I knew that I was better,” Knutson said, “sometimes you play an opponent and you just know you’re better… I knew that if I would lose, it would be me beating myself not her beating me.

Knutson’s win put the Orange ahead 3-2 with Libbi Mesh and Miranda Ramirez representing the remaining matches. Mesh nearly broke back at 4-5 in the decisive set, but lost a deciding deuce point.

“Quite honestly, it’s just two points,” Head Coach Younes Limam said, “there were two points that kind of separate us from winning this match or losing this match.”