Gabriela Knutson’s bounce back performance fuels Syracuse’s 5-2 win over Columbia

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Down 30-40 in the second game of their doubles matchup, Gabriela Knutson and Miranda Ramirez were at break point. On a Columbia return, Knutson took two steps toward the net, and with her racket perpendicular to the ground, smashed a volley.It was returned by the Lions, but Knutson again rallied from the front without taking a step. This time, with a sharper angle, the ball hit the court and bounced above Columbia’s Christie Wan and Jennifer Kerr, eventually hitting the ceiling. Knutson let out a laugh.“We take it with a grain of salt,” Knutson said. “We kind of joke on the court, and that helps us not get too psyched out.”After Knutson was tested Saturday against Brown, when her singles match went into three sets and frustrations emerged during a close doubles match, she bounced back on Sunday. Knutson cruised to a straight-set victory in singles and dominated in doubles play in No. 24 Syracuse’s (2-0) 5-2 win against the Lions (0-1). Yesterday, it was the back-end depth picking up Knutson when she struggled. Against Columbia, it was reversed. Knutson’s success kick-started Dina Hegab’s comeback, the clinching point in SU’s victory.“Momentum is huge,” SU head coach Younes Limam said. “Today, we had to be flexible and really just (deal) with adversity.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter winning her doubles match with Ramirez, Knutson was forced to walk down to the far wall. Court three, where first singles typically plays, was lined with towels by the net from a leak in the ceiling. But the change of courts didn’t faze Knutson, who zoomed past freshman Akanksha Bhan in the first set, 6-2. Knutson’s experience, Limam said, made playing a first year collegiate player look easier than it actually was. In the second set, Knutson took five out of the final seven games to sweep Bhan and give SU a 2-0 lead.In third singles, Ramirez got out to a slow start in her singles match against Wan. The junior dropped the first set of her singles match and was broken twice. Then, Knutson came over to Ramirez. Her singles match already finished, a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Bhan, she strolled to court three, and she stood parallel to Ramirez. When Ramirez switched sides, so did Knutson.“We all feed off of each other’s energy,” Knutson said. “So if you see your one teammate doing well and your other teammate cheering her on with really good energy, then of course you feel better and want to do just as well as your teammate next to you.”Although Ramirez dropped the third set, Hegab, on the court next to Ramirez, turned around her match. Hegab had dropped the first set 6-4, and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in set two. But two breaks evaporated it. Then, in between games, the trainer came over, stretched out Hegab’s arm and put cream on it. After the treatment, Hegab recovered, taking the set, 7-5At break point in the third, Hegab sent a forehand return fast down the outside line, but Andrea Kevakian called it out. Hegab and volunteer assistant coach Len Lopoo pleaded with the chair umpire that it was in. But she held serve, regained the lead, and, after a stray ball forced a redo on match point, sent a forehand winner down the line, clinching the match for Syracuse.But what allowed for Ramirez and Guzal Yusupova’s singles losses to not matter and helped Hegab find her groove after a set, stemmed from the calmness established by Knutson, Hegab said. Sofya Golubovskaya was forced into a three set thriller. Sofya Treshcheva needed to wait until Knutson finished to start her match because of a ceiling leak. At each of those matches stood Knutson, unfazed by the conditions.After her doubles match finished, Knutson went over to the trainer’s station and had her knee rubbed with Tiger Balm. She had taken off her jersey, and her Syracuse tennis T-shirt read “Unbreakable.” On Sunday afternoon, that’s what Knutson was.“Just putting us onto that scoreboard again, 2-0 up, that was huge,” Limam said. “When she plays on her terms, she makes it look a little easier than it actually is.” Commentscenter_img Published on January 20, 2019 at 5:12 pm Contact Andrew: arcrane@syr.edu | @CraneAndrewlast_img

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