TENNIS : SU preps for opening weekend slate highlighted by rivalry game with Georgetown
Luke Jensen doesn’t mask his feelings about Georgetown. The Syracuse tennis coach says whenever he sees the Hoyas in an airport, his mood turns sour.
‘You walk into the airport and see them,’ Jensen said, ‘you just don’t like them.’
The Orange and the Hoyas have a heated history. And one year after the Orange dominated Georgetown in a 7-0 shutout, the more talented Orange will play its rival in the finale of a three-match opening weekend. Aside from the bad-blood which will surface against Georgetown, SU will take on Navy and Maryland to start the season.
The opening weekend will provide competition for the Orange as well as a Big East opener very early in the season in the form of the rivalry game. But after winning its last 14 regular-season Big East contests, SU junior Alessondra Parra sees the Orange itself as SU’s greatest opponent.
‘I think that if we play well, then we’re going to do well against all 3 teams,’ Parra said. ‘Mentally, if we’re not in it, we’re only going to trip up.’
Jensen is not looking past the season opener with Navy, even if the Big East opener with the Hoyas is looming two days later. The meeting will mark the first time the Orange will take on Navy under Jensen. The coach emphasized the fact that the Cadets are strong-willed individuals. It something he expects they will translate to the tennis court from their day-to-day Annapolis-bred determination.
‘To be honest, especially when you’re playing a Cadet kid – Army, Air Force, Navy – this is a different type of kid,’ Jensen said. ‘This kid is committed to putting their life on the line for this country. So you’re getting a very determined individual. No matter what their ranking was coming in, no matter what the situation is. … They bite their tails off.’
Emily Harman isn’t underestimating the cadets either. The junior said she anticipates Navy will be feisty and fighting the favored Orange every step of the way.
Jensen feels that Navy’s focus makes them a perfect season opener. He and the rest of the team know that to get to Maryland and Georgetown, they must get through Navy.
‘This isn’t the sisters of the poor,’ Jensen said. ‘This is the real deal, man. But we need that. We need that focus. I like the fact that we’re playing that kind of character in a team because we need to focus on No. 1. That gets us to No. 2.’
The Orange will face Navy Friday in Annapolis, Md., and will then trip to College Park, Md., for a noon match against the Terrapins. SU will then return to Drumlins Tennis Center to face the rival Hoyas at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
And though Georgetown was unable to win a single match against the Orange last season, there is mutual discontent.
Harman shared her coach’s sentiments. Her mindset too turns sour when referring to the Hoyas.
‘We have a history with Georgetown,’ Harman said. ‘We don’t like them. We want to beat them. We have a competitive run with them, where we always want to come out with a 7-0 win.’
Harman, as always, is aiming for the shutout. But she and Jensen know that just because they blanked the Hoyas last year it’s not going to be a sure thing this year. Especially coming off a whirlwind weekend tour to kick start the season.
‘It doesn’t matter what happened the year before,’ Jensen said. ‘It doesn’t matter which recruits came in. It’s a rivalry match. You circle the calendar.’
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