Syracuse forced to adjust as the season shifts outdoors

first_imgInside Drumlins Country Club, it can be difficult to remember that Syracuse is among the snowiest cities in the United States.The seven courts, situated under an airplane hangar-type roof, remain dry year round as Syracuse is barraged with snow, rain and wind, allowing tennis players to enjoy controlled conditions.But, through April, SU balances two different schedules: the home, indoor circuit and its southern, outdoor destinations.The Orange enters the outdoor-heavy portion of its season Friday with a matchup at No. 19 Florida State (12-7, 4-5 Atlantic Coast), where Syracuse (14-3, 6-3) must adjust to the different pace of outdoor courts down south. Three of SU’s final five matches will be outdoors, including the ACC championships in Cary, North Carolina. Playing in Syracuse, SU has had little opportunity to practice outside due to unfavorable conditions.The adaptations players make for the wind and sun, combined with the differences in court speed, make the adjustment to southern play difficult, SU head coach Younes Limam said. Limam intended to practice outdoors starting April 2, but the rain, wind and cold forced SU to remain indoors. Syracuse is the only ACC school that doesn’t have outdoor courts available for matches.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen SU arrives in Tallahassee, Florida, on Thursday, it will have light practice to acclimate to the differences of the outdoor courts. Because of Syracuse’s outdoor restrictions, the Orange hasn’t played outside since March 13, when it defeated Florida Atlantic 6-1.Against FAU, the wind frustrated Gabriela Knutson, forcing her to adjust her ball toss on her serve, she said, opting to toss the ball lower than usual, which sacrifices power for placement. Knutson lost to the nation’s No. 6 player, her only singles loss of the season.“When I toss it high, the wind and the sun bugs me,” Knutson said. “I’m not saying it’s why I lost, but it was difficult.”Most of SU’s players, including Knutson, Dina Hegab and Miranda Ramirez, grew up playing on outdoor hard and clay courts. They prefer playing outdoors, they said. Adjusting to faster indoor hard courts isn’t the tough part, Limam said.“There is quite an adjustment you have to make going from indoors to outdoors,” Limam said. “It’s a lot easier to come from outdoors to indoors.”Players like freshman Sofya Golubovskaya, who hits a flat ball with little spin and a lot of pace, face a bigger adjustment to outdoors where the wind messes with the ball before and after it makes contact the racket, making timing shots hard, Limam said.Hegab counters the wind and higher bounce by playing more conservatively, she said. Instead of trying to hit winners from all over the court, she uses improved fitness and consistency to force opponents into errors. Ramirez uses her footwork to prepare for potential late deviations to the ball’s path.“We try to remind them to put more spin on the ball, be a little more patient,” Limam said. “When you play indoors, you can finish points in two or three shots, outdoors the ball comes back.”Last season, the Orange finished 1-4 in outdoor matches. Limam is hoping that this year, his team is ready to deal with leaving Drumlins.“Being outdoors in the wind can be difficult,” Limam said. “We have to be ready to dig in and make a few extra shots.” Comments Published on April 5, 2018 at 10:25 am Contact Anthony: amdabbun@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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