Gabriela Knutson anchors Syracuse’s win against Wake Forest

Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 1, 2016 at 9:37 pm Contact Charlie: [email protected] | @charliedisturco Gabriela Knutson bent over and bounced on the balls of her feet. Knutson threw the ball up and hit a serve that bounced off Anna Ulyashchenko’s racket and landed out of bounds. The next play was another ace, as Knutson won the first set 6-2.Ulyashchenko lowered her racket and kicked it, gripping the handle tightly. She walked over to the bench where her coach tried to console her. It was of no use. Ulyashchenko took her racket and smashed it over her head six times before letting out a grunt. Knutson sat on the bench waiting for the next set.The next set did not go her way, though, as multiple hits landing just off the net and missing the baseline by a couple inches led to Knutson letting out a loud moan. She began talking to herself in Czech. That’s when volunteer assistant coach Len Lopoo tried to calm her down, telling her, “Go back to playing Gabby tennis.”While she was unable to win the second set, falling 4-6, she was able to emulate “Gabby tennis” in a dominating third set victory.“I played my game, which is aggressive. (In the second set) I got nervous so I was missing my shots,” Knutson said. “(In the third set) I had the mindset to forget the second set and focus on what happened in the first.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textUp 5-1, Knutson fired a forehand that landed past the outstretched hand of Ulyashchenko. The next point was a short-lived rally that resulted in Knutson taking home what would be No. 40 Syracuse’s (9-6, 3-6 Atlantic Coast) first of four points of the match, as the team defeated No. 19 Wake Forest (16-6, 5-5 ACC) 4-3.Knutson was one of the many bright spots in Syracuse’s come-from-behind win against Wake Forest. In her doubles match, her and Valeria Salazar had no trouble defeating Ulyashchenko and Kimmy Guerin, 6-3.In the last game of the No. 1 doubles match, Knutson and Salazar were up 6-2. The first two plays of the game resulted in lobs that Knutson spiked into the ground and over the heads of her opponents. The next play, Knutson hit a forehand that slowly bounced between the two. And the last was yet another spike to secure match point.“The momentum changed when we broke the lefties serve,” Salazar said. “Gabby hit some really good returns and it changed the whole momentum.”The win is the duo’s seventh, as they currently are ranked No. 33 among all doubles teams in the nation, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.“(Gabriela and Valeria) were huge for us. They put us in a great position,” head coach Younes Limam said. “(They were) going and getting it instead of waiting for things to happen. It’s great to see them bounce back from a couple tough losses the last couple weeks.” Comments read more

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