TENNIS : Safdar turns in dominant performance to help SU to victory over Red Storm

first_imgKomal Safdar drove Joanna Zwirbulis deeper and deeper behind the baseline with devastating groundstrokes until she finally coughed up a short, looping backhand.The Syracuse freshman promptly sent an overhead smash to the forehand corner, ending her No. 2 singles match.‘Once I moved her around from side to side and got into rallies I ended up winning the points,’ Safdar said.The freshman carried out countless points in the same fashion as she stormed to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Zwirbulis of St. John’s at the Drumlins Tennis Center on Friday night. The singles match lasted only 48 minutes as Safdar out-hit, out-ran and outplayed her opposition, much like her Syracuse teammates as the Orange defeated the Red Storm (0-1, 0-1 Big East) 7-0. Safdar also partnered with senior captain Emily Harman in an 8-6 win in No. 1 doubles.SU (2-2, 1-1) beat Buffalo (1-2) 7-0 on the road Sunday to improve to .500 on the season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSafdar committed very few errors against Zwirbulis and focused on keeping the ball in play. The freshman struggled with her consistency in her match against Texas Christian’s No. 114 Olivia Smith, falling 6-0, 6-0.The TCU match was Safdar’s first after missing the season opener against South Florida due to a wrist injury.‘Basically, last week I think I beat myself. I made a lot of errors,’ Safdar said. ‘… This week, I went more into lockdown mode, and I made sure that if I lost that she would beat me, not off my errors.’While playing a clean match, Safdar was also aggressive throughout. She served and volleyed early and often, attacking the match and making the points and the court shorter for Zwirbulis.Safdar said she used the tactic to mix up the pace of the match, but it also had a clear effect on her opponent.With Safdar having quickly jumped out to a 4-1 lead, Zwirbulis looked down both mentally and physically, mishitting a number of simple groundstrokes and displaying far less energy than the ever-active Safdar. After only 24 minutes, Safdar won the first set.Safdar’s night, however, did not start nearly as well as it ended in her singles match.Partnering with Harman, Safdar struggled early with her net play. Syracuse’s No. 1 doubles pairing fell behind 1-3 to the St John’s team of Nevena Selakovic and Diamond Adams. Safdar even crucially lost her first service game.‘We got down a break pretty quickly. I lost my serve, but me and Emily, we stayed with it,’ Safdar said.As the match progressed Safdar became visibly more comfortable as she and Harman found their way to the net with increasing ease. Safdar executed a number of crucial midcourt shots as she and Harman began to implement a serve-and-volley style that wore away at Selakovic and Adams’s once-commanding hold on the match.The tandem’s constant movement, during and between points, took a toll on the opposition. Selakovic rushed several serves, resulting in a number of double-faults that let Safdar and Harman back into the match. Trailing 5-6, the Orange pair regularly got to the net with a combination of speed and power that overwhelmed the St. John’s doubles team.Harman said Safdar’s athleticism and knowledge of the game make her an effective partner on the court.‘She’s awesome to play with, you know. If she sees something, she tells me. If I see something, then I tell her,’ Harman said.And that chemistry helped them win the last three games of the match to give Syracuse a clean sweep of the doubles matches.Safdar carried that momentum into her singles match, in which she cruised to victory over Zwirbulis.Head coach Luke Jensen said that Safdar is very easy to coach, noting her ability to dissect opponents like a professional. Safdar exposed numerous weaknesses in Zwirbulis on her way to winning in dominant fashion.‘She’s an all-court player,’ Jensen said. ‘She truly is kind of the Roger Federer of our team.’jmklinge@syr.edu Comments Published on January 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Jacob: jmklinge@syr.edu | @Jacob_Klinger_center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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