Gabriela Knutson wins both matches despite Syracuse’s 5-2 loss to No. 9 Virginia

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first_imgKnutson and doubles partner Valeria Salazar cruised to a 6-1 win early in the match. In just 28 minutes, the pair took care of Virginia’s Stephanie Nauta and Victoria Olivarez. They commanded rallies, forcing Nauta and Olivarez to huddle between points and regroup. Most points ended quickly, often with Virginia’s Stephanie Nauta and Victoria Olivarez scurrying to trace down Knutson’s well-placed shots near the sidelines.Knutson said Salazar helped set up her points well, which helped the duo get SU’s only doubles win. That, she said, made her both positive and aggressive heading into singles play, both of which she’d need. Her opponent, Nauta, entered Sunday as the No. 63 singles player in the country.In the first set tiebreak, Knutson missed the last point of the set. She responded by spinning her racquet in the air. On its way down, it slipped through her hands, clicking on the floor below. She moaned in frustration as the the racquet lay at her feet.“We all lost doubles points, so I was really disappointed,” she said. “That’s why I started out a little slow in singles, lost.”But after that, she turned it on. In the second set, she cruised to a 6-1 win. Her volleys were well-timed and her serve was powerful. Even her short game acted as an effective change-up to her power strokes. She dropped a few slow volleys that nearly stopped when they landed in Nauta’s box. She followed her second set win with a 6-4 win in the third.Knutson said she instinctively crept up to make aggressive shots. In her doubles match, she and Salazar scaled down the court. Knutson stayed 10 or 15 feet from the net for a rally of back and forth volleys on multiple occasions, making for a game that was at times more akin to pickle ball than tennis.In the team’s postgame huddle, Limam told his team that Knutson’s aggressiveness and ability to take control of the last set is something that, despite the loss, each player could take from the match.“Gaby was a stud today,” Limam said. “She played very good tennis against a very good player for Virginia. It was a very good way to finish the day.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 21, 2016 at 5:54 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21center_img When Gabriela Knutson was battling in her third set, players and coaches from both teams flocked to court two to see the final match of the afternoon. With each winning point, Knutson drew more cheers. The teams’ match had already been decided, but Knutson was affixed to one thing: winning hers.“I didn’t really focus on what other people were doing,” Knutson said. “I was really concentrated on my match, so I just hoped that my teammates were going to also win.”But for the most part, Knutson’s teammates didn’t win. Syracuse (7-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) dropped two of three doubles matches to the No. 9 Virginia Cavaliers (5-3, 2-0) in its first loss of the season on Sunday. The Orange never quite got off its sluggish start in doubles, dropping four singles matches en route to losing to the Cavaliers 5-2. With the loss, Syracuse drops to 0-3 versus Virginia since joining the ACC.But despite the loss, Knutson, a 5-foot-9 freshman, won in both her doubles and singles matches and provided her teammates something to build on in the week ahead.“She’s an all around player,” Syracuse head coach Younes Limam said of Knutson. “She can finish points at the net, she can also dictate at the baseline, and she needed to do that today. I think she was tested and she responded extremely well.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textlast_img

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