Gabriela Knutson drops second-straight singles match against Virginia

first_img Published on February 1, 2019 at 7:59 pm Contact Arabdho: armajumd@syr.edu | @aromajumder No. 43 Gabriela Knutson hit a cross-court backhand, low and hard. No. 32 Meghan Kelley didn’t even reach for it, and Knutson went up 5-2 in the first set against Virginia’s top singles player. That was the turning point, Knutson said, but for Kelley.  The 32nd ranked singles player in the country rattled off the next five games, taking the first set 7-5. Kelley went on to beat Knutson in straight sets 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), clinching a 4-3 win for No. 19 Virginia (5-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) against No. 10 Syracuse (4-1, 0-1) on Friday afternoon at Drumlins Country Club. Knutson said she saw herself already on the bench when she went up 5-2, and she started rushing. She envisioned the win, but couldn’t finish. The senior will need a short memory as the Orange take the court again in less than 48 hours. SU travels to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, to play Boston College in another conference battle on Sunday at 10 a.m.“Didn’t really lose my focus but I just lost my ‘I have to, have to, have to win,’ cause I already thought I was done with the first set,” Knutson said.On her way to taking the 5-2 lead, Knutson hit a powerful backhand winner, prompting Libi Mesh to cheer by the bleachers, “So good, Gabi. Good job!” A few games later, the Czech senior hit a return into the net and chided herself. Kelley quickly mounted her comeback.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAt 5-4, Knutson controlled the rally, moving Kelley around, and eventually came to the net. Kelley hit the ball high in the air, trying to lob the 5-foot-9 senior. Knutson’s overhead smash attempt crashed into the net. She barely held herself from shouting. “That’s just me rushing and trying to play quickly,” Knutson said about the overhead. “And at that point, I should take some deep breaths and really think, OK, I’ll make four or six balls, it doesn’t matter. I’ll work the point. “And I didn’t do that, unfortunately.”A game later, it was Knutson’s serve. It looked shaky throughout the first set. The first point, she hit a backhand into the net. Then a winner. Another backhand into the net made it 15-30. But two forehand winners gave Knutson the edge, 40-30. The lead didn’t last long as Knutson double-faulted. She sliced it into the net. At deuce, Knutson’s forehand from the baseline went long, and Kelley earned a break. Serving for the set, Kelley earned three match points, and Knutson fought off two. Then, at deuce, Kelley called Knutson’s shot long, but the chair umpire’s overrule gave Knutson a second chance. She didn’t take it, allowing Kelley to be on the offensive for one of the few times in the first set. Before walking to her bench, Knutson slapped the net with her racket.Kelley started the second set with an early break, and Knutson fought back to 3-3. In the first set, the power on Knutson’s groundstrokes gave the Virginia top singles player trouble. But Knutson said she never got “on a roll” like in the first set. The match was deadlocked into a tiebreak. With just one other match still going, most of the eyes at Drumlins were on Knutson and Kelley. Every Knutson winner was met with some cheers, her errors with some groans.Kelley again took a tiebreak lead. Knutson brought it back to 4-3, but another missed overhead. Then Knutson double faulted and gave Kelley three match points. Knutson then hit a backhand long, ending the match. Knutson moved to 3-2 in singles after winning her first three matches, including Michigan standout and No. 3 ranked Kate Fahey in straight sets. Of the two losses, Friday was an “anomaly,” she said. Against Purdue last weekend, she fell in three sets to No. 19 Silvia Ambrosio. It was a WTA-quality battle, Knutson said, and Ambrosio was just better in the end. Friday, the Czech senior was on top form at times but fell off in other points.“It was just up and down, and I hate that,” Knutson said. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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