Get the latest Syracuse news delivered right to your inbox.
Subscribe to our sports newsletter here.
Shiori Ito and Sofya Treshcheva, a doubles pair playing in their second game together, jumped out to a commanding 4-1 lead before Buffalo’s Hsin-Yuan Shih and Azra Deniz Comlek came charging back to make it 4-4.
During the next game point, Ito and Shih were locked in a long, back-and-forth rally before Treshcheva sent a sharp backhand over the net, which ricocheted off Comlek’s racket and spun out of bounds. The two cheered as they took a 5-4 lead en route to a 6-4 victory to secure the doubles point for Syracuse.
The Orange won the doubles point for the fifth time in six matches this season, defeating the Bulls 5-2. No. 1 doubles pair Viktoriya Kanapatskaya and Ines Fonte lost their matchup 6-3, while the two newer pairings were both victorious. Syracuse went on to win four singles matches and hand undefeated Buffalo its first loss of the season.
Polina Kozyreva and Miyuka Kimoto won their doubles match 6-0 with little resistance, continuously forcing their opponents into awkward bounces through overhead shots from just behind the net. The No. 1 and 2 pairings for SU earned the team a doubles point that has been vital for their success in the past.
The Orange decided to stick with their most recent doubles pairs from last week, having separated their freshman duo of Ito and Kimoto, pairing both with upperclassmen. Ito was teamed up with Treshcheva, a senior, and Kimoto with Kozyreva, a junior, in order to test out some new pairings and give the team “more options and flexibility” to exploit certain matchups, according to head coach Younes Limam.
“It’s still early on in the season and we are trying to see what combinations work best for us,” Limam said. “We know that Shiori and Miyuka are a good team, and the same with Sofya and Polina.”
Ito played the longest singles match against sophomore Mariana Torres, even though the overall score had already been decided before her tiebreaker set. The two battled for over two hours until Ito won the tiebreaker 9-7 after splitting the first two sets 7-5, 5-7. Torres was able to maintain rallies consistently, neutralizing Ito’s power multiple times, a skill which Limam said was vital for the team’s success.
“There is a saying that we talk to our team a lot about that says, ‘It’s better to be consistently good than occasionally great’ and I think (Ito) is a perfect example of that,” Limam said. “During that last match, even though the (overall) match was decided, she stayed the course and I was very proud of her.”
At the No. 1 singles spot, Kanapatskaya continued her recent winning streak by only dropping one game in a straight set over senior Pia Schwarz, showing an elite ability to keep rallies going by any means and force her opponent into mistakes.
But unlike Kanapatskaya, Kozyreva did not have a straight path to victory like her teammate. She won a back-and-forth first set 7-5 against Buffalo junior Ambre Amat, who kept her constantly on the run with lots of slices. Still, Kozyreva was able to collect herself and prepare for the domination she exhibited in the second set to win 6-1.
“(Kozyreva) got on a roll and started playing on her terms a little bit more,” Limam said. “She started becoming more and more confident.”
Her doubles partner, Kimoto, faced a familiar foe. Shih and Kimoto had previously matched up in the fall as Limam and Kimoto analyzed their fall matchup. In that match, Shih won 7-5, 7-5 but Limam and Kimoto worked on a game plan which they executed well, Limam said.
Shih likes to mix up her spin on the ball and the patterns of her shots, which meant that Kimoto had to aggressively commit to her shots, Limam said. The strategy worked and the match went through two back-and-forth sets, but Kimoto eventually closed out both sets 6-4, 6-3.
The two singles losses came from Treshcheva and Fonte. After a very successful doubles showing with her new freshman partner, Treshcheva lost in straight sets as she was overpowered by fifth-year Gabriella Akopyan.
Fonte appeared to get injured during the first set of her singles match against Comlek, staying on the floor for a few minutes before eventually returning to the match. After returning, she lost the set 6-4 despite leading 3-2 at the time of the injury. Then, Fonte lost the second set 6-0.
The team will begin ACC play versus Boston College on Saturday, Feb. 19. Before conference matchups start, Limam said he wants the team to be prepared for anything and welcome the adjustments as they come.
The post Syracuse hands Buffalo 1st loss of the season in 5-2 win appeared first on The Daily Orange.