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TENNIS : Jensen’s speech motivates Syracuse, sparks team to victory

first_img Comments Published on January 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm Luke Jensen knew his team needed motivating. On a red-eye flight back from Maryland — after being swept 7-0 by the Terrapins on Saturday afternoon — the team morale had to be improved.Until 2 a.m., Jensen, the Syracuse tennis coach, used the plane trip home as an opportunity to talk to the players both individually and collectively. With just nine hours to prepare, he wanted his players to understand the significance of Sunday’s game against Georgetown.‘One of the things I told my players this morning was that it’s not about how many wins you get,’ Jensen said. ‘It’s how many times you get off the mat. You just got smoked, you just got embarrassed, so what are you going to do about it?’Jensen’s words proved inspirational, and a day after being trounced by Maryland, the Orange (2-1, 1-0 Big East) defeated the Hoyas (0-2, 0-1) 5-2 in its Big East opener at Drumlins Tennis Center on Sunday. The game was the third match of the weekend for Syracuse. And Jensen’s pep talk kept the team from having a losing record after just one week of play after SU defeated Navy 6-1 on Friday.Georgetown jumped out to an early lead, grabbing the doubles portion of play.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe No. 1 doubles pair of junior Emily Harman and freshman Maddie Kobelt failed to convert on match point leading to an 8-7 tiebreaker loss. Sophomore Alessondra Parra and junior Simone Kalhorn lost 8-6 in the No. 2 doubles position, but the pairing of freshmen Aleah Marrow and Eva Raszkiewicz won 8-3 in No. 3 doubles.Doubles play was an area Jensen felt played a pivotal role in SU’s loss to the Terrapins on Saturday, so the first stanza may have caused Jensen to worry that Sunday would be a repeat performance.‘We had that doubles point won yesterday, and Maryland took momentum, and they bageled us,’ Jensen said. ‘In this case we had match point, all we had to do was play solid fundamental tennis, and our reactions were slow.’Another brief intermission between doubles and singles matches enabled Jensen to motivate his players. He asked who was going to come up big for the team in the crucial moments.‘Our attitude was that we were going to go out and win every single match in singles play,’ Kalhorn said. ‘We don’t like losing doubles points, we practice playing doubles a ton, so I think that fired us up more to kick butt in singles.’In the end, the entire Syracuse team took the message to heart, and SU would drop only four sets out of 14 en route to the victory.With the Orange holding a 3-2 overall lead, Kobelt and Marrow were the final two players on the court for SU. Each notched victories in the third sets of their contests to put the match out of reach.Marrow put more emphasis on footwork and attitude after falling in her first set 4-6. She used a powerful serve to overcome the early deficit and cruise through the final two sets, 6-3, 6-0, in No. 4 singles.‘It feels good,’ Marrow said. ‘Especially after the loss yesterday — nobody won a match yesterday — and to come out here with a little bit of pressure on us to do well against our rival, it felt really good to get the win.’Given the quick turnaround, Syracuse could have very well been both physically and mentally drained. But Jensen’s words of encouragement pushed his team to a win in a close contest.The young players were able to execute down the stretch, and the Orange turned another shaky start into a crucial conference victory. The deflating loss against Maryland may have been the perfect kickstart for the Orange to beat one of its biggest rivals.‘I think it was kind of like a reality check,’ Kalhorn said. ‘We just walked in there and assumed that we were the better team. We were really motivated coming here on home court to really bring it today.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img


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