TENNIS : SU uses Notre Dame defeat as motivation with tournament play looming

first_imgEmily Harman’s heart sunk. She walked back onto the court following a first-set defeat during last season’s Big East semifinal against Notre Dame. But before the set could even start, the match was over.The referees and coaches informed Harman that she would not have to finish the rest of her individual match because Syracuse had already lost.‘It’s still a feeling that I hold onto to motivate me to get even more pumped up for a time like that,’ Harman said. ‘I don’t want to have that feeling again. It’s one of those times where, in the moment, you really hate it. It’s a gut feeling you have, but in the end it made me better.‘It made me realize where we are as a team and how much we needed to work to get better.’The match against Notre Dame remains etched in the minds of the five remaining players from a year ago. It was the definitive moment that signified Syracuse was not going to be bullied by ranked opponents anymore. A difficult schedule in the past two seasons, marked by six matches against ranked opponents, has Syracuse players believing they are prepared to make a push for a chance at redemption.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU head coach Luke Jensen explained that this stretch is the most important of the season to gain momentum and to use what his team has encountered throughout the season to make one final push.‘The next two or three weeks, we have to use all those battle scars,’ Jensen said. ‘All of the good and bad and say, ‘Next time I’m in that situation, how am I going to react? How am I going to play? How am I going to find a little more performance for my game?”With just two matches remaining this season, a chance at redemption is fueling Syracuse (14-6, 6-1) to gather some steam heading into the Big East tournament. SU has the second-best winning percentage in the Big East. The Orange is coming off a difficult 1-6 loss to No. 49 William & Mary that came before its 6-1 win over Old Dominion.This season, Syracuse’s most difficult test came at the hands of then-No. 9 Southern California. The Orange pushed the Trojans to a 4-3 result, and despite the loss, SU has inched closer to beating its superior opponents this season.The older players now have experience playing through pressure-infused matches. Each player has gained the ability to articulate a match and overcome adversity during anxious moments. The younger players have gotten the feel for the implications of more significant matches.The growth for players like freshman Maddie Kobelt could mean sizeable contributions on the horizon in the season’s biggest moments.‘Now in matches, I’m able to know more exactly what I want to do, and I’m able to better execute or fix the problem,’ Kobelt said. ‘If I miss a forehand long instead of trying for that same shot again, now I know exactly what to do, whether it’s taking a little spin off or add a little more spin.’The challenging schedule has caused some astounding developments to take shape. After winning 10 consecutive matches, Kobelt and Harman combined to create the 32nd-ranked pairing in the nation.‘I think that the team as a whole is a lot more battle-tested, and we’re not going to go down without a fight,’ Harman said. ‘For us to be able to do that going into the Big East tournament, everyone knows what we’re all about, and that really puts us on the radar and it gives better competition for us as well.’The Orange routs opponents that it should rout, and it has finally started to put a scare on ranked opponents. But for Jensen, despite playing three nationally ranked teams, coming out of that portion of the schedule with three losses is unacceptable.It’s an area that will have to change in the home stretch, heading into the anticipated chance for redemption at the Big East tournament.‘When you get into the Big East, you’re going to be playing higher-ranked teams than No. 40,’ Jensen said. ‘You better be playing good tennis in the next two or three weeks, or this season is going to end shorter than it should.’[email protected] Published on April 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *