After fast start, Syracuse is failing to play up to potential against ranked opponents

first_imgYounes Limam’s body language hasn’t changed all season when addressing the media. The fifth-year Syracuse head coach stands with his arms crossed and mulls over each question before responding. Regardless if SU has just won or lost, Limam believes in his team, he said, and defends their play.This year, No. 32 Syracuse (10-6, 3-4 Atlantic Coast) hasn’t had the same success it did last season, countering Limam’s early expectations of his team. He’s said multiple times this season that the Orange have the potential to win all six singles matches and take all seven points in a match. Wins against then-No. 30 Virginia Tech and then-No. 3 Georgia Tech showed the Orange could do it last season. But the results haven’t come in 2019 with just one win against six ranked opponents.“I’m a big believer on playing a tough schedule,” Limam said. “It’s only going to get harder the next couple of weeks, and our ultimate goal is to be ready in May and at the end of April.”Since defeating then-No. 9 Michigan in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, Syracuse has had opportunities to defeat top teams — then-No. 19 Virginia, then-No. 16 Ohio State, then-No. 7 Pepperdine — but hasn’t capitalized.In SU’s loss on Sunday to then-No. 15 Wake Forest, it happened again. The depth Limam raved about, third singles and down, lost their matches. The Orange dropped both first and third doubles in tiebreakers, but the SU head coach still felt his players played some of their best tennis all year.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“You look at every match, the main thing is to compete hard, extremely hard from start to finish,” Limam said, “and I think we’ve done that the last two matches. Now we need to have that same mentality on a daily basis.”To create day-to-day intensity, Syracuse has turned to with the idea that every point is a deuce point. It creates an “urgency,” Limam said, and the mindset that there are “no points off” against ranked teams.After a loss to No. 37 Georgia Tech on March 3, Syracuse started practicing doubles with more intensity, Dina Hegab said. Fast starts are key because the matches are only one set, and top teams won’t relinquish early leads. And slowly, the Orange’s doubles play has followed suit.“We played one of our best doubles this past weekend, and just came up a little bit short,” Limam said. “But I’m very pleased on the direction that the team is headed.”As Syracuse starts the brunt of its conference play, it’ll face five top-25 opponents in the span of less than a month, including three-straight starting on Sunday against No. 15 Florida State. When SU earned its highest ranking in program history earlier this year at No. 10, its rise as a top program in the ACC was being quantified. Coming out of its ranked stretch of games with a winning record would improve its ranking, which has dipped 22 spots.As the questions began this week, Limam stayed loose even though SU was coming off another loss on Sunday. He continued to defend his team’s performance and repeated what he has preached all season.“I still go back to, we are a deep team,” Limam said. “We’re going to have a very special team when everybody plays at their potential.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on March 19, 2019 at 10:57 pm Contact Arabdho: armajumd@syr.edu | @aromajumder last_img read more