Syracuse tennis top the Hokies to wrap up the three-game week

Syracuse tennis top the Hokies to wrap up the three-game week

Miyuka Kimoto leads the way winning in both singles and doubles competition.
Published: March 5, 2023
Syracuse tennis ends its three-day homestand with a 5-2 win against Virginia Tech on Sunday, March 5, 2023.
Syracuse tennis ends its three-day homestand with a 5-2 win against Virginia Tech on Sunday.

Syracuse tennis (11-1, 4-1) comes to its last game of the back-to-back-to-back schedule this week, transcending No. 44 Virginia Tech (8-5, 0-4) 5-2 and capturing their fourth win in the ACC conference.

Syracuse head coach Younes Limam remained on the same doubles roster as the previous game against Coppin State. Zeynep Erman paired with Ines Fonte, while Shiori Ito collaborated with Viktoriya Kanapatskaya again. The No. 3 doubles went to the 2022 NCAA duo Polina Kozyreva and Miyuka Kimoto.

Ito and Kanapataskaya defeated Semra Aksu and Tamara Barad Itzhaki 6-3 and notched the first win for the Orange. Kanapatskaya kept herself passive, giving net-play and volleys as returns to resist the Hokie’s attack. Ito also utilized her advantage in front of the net and scored.

The second finish went to Kozyreva and Kimoto against Sabina Richtrova and Charlotte Cartledge. Due to Kimoto’s spectacular reaction capability in net plays and volleys, she contributed a three-game lead and dominated the set 6-3, securing a relatively light-hearted win in doubles.

Erman and Fonte faced the Hokies’ unchanged group, Katie Anderini and Dariya Radulova, who cooperated in 8 wins this season. The Orange combine represented their good chemistry: Erman offered her strength in return to force the Hokies’ to commit errors while Fonte sought chances to smash in front of the net. The game was forfeited after Syracuse determined two doubles wins from the other courts.

Fonte clashed with Erika Cheng, who frustrated No. 75 singles Sara McClure from North Carolina and stayed invincible this season. Fonte didn’t allow Cheng to show her competitiveness, dealing with the game in 6-0. Fonte played flexibly, using lob shots while observing Cheng move forward. Hokies retired the second set, Syracuse added up a singles point and enhanced to a two-point lead.

However, Limam also decided to retire the No. 1 singles, where Erman battled Ozlem Uslu. Erman set her pace earlier, applying her unique physicality in serves and returns to take a 4-3 lead. But she encountered troubles from Uslu who took over games she served, transferring her advantage to Uslu and dropped the first set 4-6. Then, the Orange waived the second set.

Limam said the leading status at the time and Virginia Tech’s decision to abandon Cheng’s singles enabled him to drop Erman’s singles match.

“We felt good in all the courts,” Limam said. “For today’s match, we’re still gonna be okay even if we give away that (Erman’s) point.”

Kimoto made a singles comeback with a straight-set win against Itzhaki 6-0, 6-2. She signally made a higher effort than in previous games and demonstrated her ambition to elude her frustration in singles. She showed good judgment in Itzhaki’s positioning, returning versatilely to break Itzhaki’s rhythm. Even she successfully made unexpected returns by volleys despite her negative position. Kimoto attained a two-singles win streak.

“(Miyuka Kimoto) played excellent doubles, which gave her a lot of confidence going into her singles,” Limam said. “It’s tough when you lose a lot of matches back-to-back (and) you start doubting, but (I) couldn’t be prouder of her.”

Kozyreva and Kanapatskaya completed a straight-set against Aksu and Radulova with the same ease. Despite Ito surrendering in the third set against Andreini, the second loss of the three-day schedule. Syracuse ultimately ended the devil’s race with an inspiring win.

The Orange will enjoy a 12-day holiday and travel to South Carolina for the No. 45 ranked Clemson (11-4, 1-3) matchup at 3 p.m. on March 17.