Tennis

Gabriela Knutson wins doubles point and comes back to secure a singles point in Syracuse’s 5-2 win over Louisville

Codie Yan | Staff Photographer

Gabriella Knutson fell behind in the first set of her singles matched but roared back to win the next two easily.

UPDATED: April 4, 2017 at 9 p.m.

Multiple points in the first doubles match ended with all four players and both head coaches staring at the umpire, waiting for his call. Both times, the calls went in Syracuse’s favor, leading to a first doubles win that clinched the doubles point on the way to overall victory.

The two mishaps involved borderline out-in calls, and the players and ump were not on the same page. The first questionable call made it 5-5, and the second one contributed to Syracuse’s pairing making it 6-5. In the end, Miranda Ramirez and Gabriela Knutson clinched the doubles point for Syracuse (6-8, 3-4 Atlantic Coast), winning over Abbie Pahz and Mariana Humberg of Louisville (13-6, 2-5). It took a 7-6 (7-4) score to clinch.

“I think it motivates me,” Knutson said, speaking of playing in the deciding doubles match. “I really like it when I’m the final match and everyone’s cheering.”

The momentum started by Knutson and Ramirez’s tight win led to a strong showing in singles for Syraucuse, which emerged victorious at Drumlins Country Club on Friday, 5-2.

Knutson didn’t look to have carried her momentum over to singles following the intense doubles win. She lost her first singles set at second singles, 4-6. Knutson stormed back though, winning the second and third sets, 6-1, 6-0, to defeat Humberg.

Humberg played a lot of crafty shots. She liked drop shots in the run of play. Humberg even tried a few drop shot-like serves, in which she would underhand the ball barely over the net. Before Knutson caught onto Humberg’s play style, it worked. Once Knutson figured it out, her superior fitness gave her the necessary energy to run all over the court chasing soft shots just begging to be hit.

“She (Humberg) was getting really tired,” Knutson said. “I’ve been doing a lot of extra fitness, so I feel great. I know that I could play three sets, five sets, as many as I want. That really helped me in the match.”

By the second and third sets of Knutson’s singles match, her stamina showed up each and every point. Humberg’s returns were consistently weak and short. Knutson took advantage in two ways. If she could only just reach the ball, she hit soft, cross-court backhand drop shots out of Humberg’s reach.

More often, Humberg hit soft shots that could not have been placed nicer if put on a tee for Knutson. SU’s second singles player pounced on all those opportunities, putting away strong winners left, right, and even smashed straight into the ground to dominate her last two sets against Humberg. As the ball hung up in the air and Knutson charged time and again, it seemed only right that she was running away with the match. As the match wound down and Knutson continued to smash the ball past her opponent, smiles started to creep across her face. There was no longer doubt as to who would win.

“I think she (Knutson) played really physical with her opponent,” head coach Younes Limam said. “She made her (Humberg) move a lot, and she played really smart. It paid off when the match went the distance.”

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Gabriela Knutson was misnamed in the headline. The Daily Orange regrets this error.

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