Tennis

Maria Tritou falls in doubles, and after early lead, in singles as Syracuse falls to Duke

Codie Yan | Staff Photographer

Masha Tritou jumped out early in the first set but Duke's Kaitlyn McCarthy pulled back and defeated the Syracuse sophomore.

Masha Tritou remained on the courts at Drumlins Country Club after all her teammates departed. She huddled with four Syracuse coaches, deep in conversation. With Tritou facing undisclosed off-court distractions, and after a day full of ups and downs for SU’s sophomore, there was a lot to talk about.

Syracuse’s (7-12, 4-8 Atlantic Coast) Tritou lost her third doubles match with Nicole Mitchell, 2-6, to Duke’s Ellyse Hamlin and Samantha Harris. She came back and won her first singles set, 6-2. But Tritou dropped the next two, 3-6, 1-6, allowing the Blue Devils’ Kaitlyn McCarthy to notch a comeback win on Saturday. No. 14 Duke (17-3, 11-0) came back from losing the doubles point to defeat the Orange, 5-2.

Even though Tritou and Mitchell lost in doubles, Syracuse’s first and second pairings won and took the doubles point. Coming off her pairing’s loss, Tritou felt boosted by her team going ahead against Duke.

“We (Tritou and Mitchell) didn’t end up winning it, but the girls in two and one doubles managed to win it,” Tritou said. “So that was a great start, it gave us a lot of confidence.”

The energy showed early in her singles match. Tritou succeeded in getting her first serves in play and utilizing her power to get on the front foot. With her opponent, McCarthy, pinned back by the hard hits, Tritou was able to attack the ball and put shots away. After rolling to a 6-2 first set win, Tritou, Syracuse’s only player to win her first set, failed to remain the aggressor.

“There are some issues happening in my life,” Tritou said. “That’s why it’s really tough to stay mentally at the same level. That’s one of the most important things, why I’m up and down in my matches, as it showed today.”

Beginning in the second set, McCarthy wrested control away from Tritou. Tritou began to fail on her first serve, forcing her to hit weaker second serves to put the ball in play. Once McCarthy faced softer shots, she pushed forward and kept Tritou moving. The Syracuse sophomore would chase down a ball in one corner of her court to return, only to have McCarthy send her back the other way. Many of those back-and-forth sequences ended with Tritou off-balance and hitting a shot long, out of play. Other times, Tritou couldn’t even reach the ball. Point after point, Duke’s sophomore pulled away.

“After a point, you’ve got 20 seconds, and you’ve just got to use those 20 seconds to your advantage,” SU head coach Younes Limam said. “Taking a deep breath, as simple as that. And knowing your strengths and sticking to it. Sometimes in a tennis match, you miss a few balls, playing the right way. You start thinking that you’ve got to do something different, and a lot of it is trusting what you’ve got to do well.”

Tritou’s frustration began to show in subtle ways. Rather than scream at herself, her shoulders sagged. Rather than hit her racket against her leg, Tritou solemnly went to fetch the ball. Energy that Tritou displayed when she was flying high in the first set was not to be found as the second set wound down.

After losing the second set, 3-6, Tritou could not recapture any of her earlier momentum in the third set. McCarthy was now fully on the attack, and whether it was cross-court winners from the Duke player, or errors either deep or short from Tritou, the score trended quickly towards a Blue Devils win at fourth singles.

“Her tactic was good,” Tritou said. “I tried to play my game, and it worked in the first set. It wasn’t enough, I guess.”

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