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Polina Kozyreva took a deep breath and readied her racket as Wake Forest’s Anna Campana extended the rally by sending a strong forehand shot. Kozyreva replied with her own forehand, aimed toward the back right quadrant of her opponent’s half.
Throughout the singles match between Kozyreva and Anna Campana , the two heavy-hitters went back and forth before the winner was decided after two sets and a tiebreaker. Though Anna Campana walked away comfortably with a 6-3 opening-set win, Kozyreva stormed back to win the second set 6-4 in equally convincing fashion. When Kozyreva delivered her final shot, Anna Campana planted her foot, preparing to send back a powerful backhand, but she was too exhausted — forced to watch her final hit nude against the net to give Syracuse and Kozyreva a victory in the No. 2 singles matchup.
“I’m very proud of her fight, and I’m very proud of how determined she was until the end of the match,” head coach Younes Limam said.
But the junior’s determined finish ended up being Syracuse’s lone win in the singles and doubles competitions as Syracuse fell to Wake Forest at home on Friday 6-1. The No. 23 Demon Deacons entered having won two of their last three Atlantic Coast Conference matchups and improved to 3-3 in league play after beating the Orange.
Limam said SU’s energy was “low in the doubles” as Syracuse lost the doubles point within the first 30 minutes of play. In the No. 1 matchup, Syracuse’s Shiori Ito and Sofya Treshcheva fell 6-1 to Wake Forest’s Anna Brylin and Brooke Killingsworth. The No. 2 matchup saw Kozyreva and Miyuka Kimoto face off against Samantha Martinelli and Casie Wooten, and the showdown proved to be just as lopsided as the first, with Martinelli and Wooten walking away with a 6-2 victory.
The No. 3 doubles matchup was neck and neck until the end, with Viktoriya Kanapatskaya and Ines Fonte locked in a close battle with Carolyn Campana and Mia Ahmad. But their match was abandoned, with Kanapatskaya and Fonte up 4-3 as the Demon Deacons had already secured the doubles point before play ended on court five.
Before singles competition started, the Syracuse coaching staff decided to abandon one of the seven scheduled singles matches due to a lower leg injury sustained by Treshcheva. Toward the end of her doubles loss, Treshcheva was visibly in discomfort and unable to put weight on her right leg. Limam said he’s hopeful the senior leader can practice on Saturday before the Orange’s showdown with No. 2 NC State on Sunday.
Syracuse’s sluggish play followed it into the beginning of the singles matches, as not a single SU player won more than four games in their initial sets against the Demon Deacons. The first game to finish came at the No. 4 singles matchup as Ito lost to Brylin in straight sets. Yet Syracuse managed to muster signs of a comeback despite the slow start.
Led by Kozyreva’s second-set victory, the Orange found more success by creating extended rallies and punishing sloppy play from Wake Forest. Kimoto, who lost her opening set to Wooten, came back to level the game in the second set before going up 5-4. But it was Wooten who was able to extend the set to a tiebreaker and won the match 6-4, 7-5.
A similar scenario played out in the No. 1 singles matchup between Kanapatskaya and Carolyn. Kanapatskaya leveled things with Carolyn, winning a thrilling second set in a tiebreak 7-5. In the tiebreaker game, Kanapatskaya couldn’t keep up with the onslaught of Carolyn’s fierce hits, and the final set ended 10-6 in Wake Forest’s favor.
Kozyreva’s win marked her 10th of the spring, equaling her career high in spring season wins. This was no easy task for the junior, though, as she overcame a lackluster first-set showing and was down early in the second.
“She was down a set and coming back to force a super tiebreaker — you never know how some of these matches turn out,” Limam said. “You always have to keep fighting and keep playing.”
The No. 5 singles match was the last to finish as Killingsworth needed three sets to defeat Fonte. The win gave Wake Forest its sixth point of the day and its second straight win in league play. Despite taking just one point, Limam said he was pleased with the Orange’s performance in the match’s latter stages.
“We came in with a little bit more energy, and I was proud of how we battled,” Limam said. “I thought the end of the matches were a lot better than the beginning.”