With Valeria Salazar out for the season, Syracuse tennis looks to Gabriela Knutson and Miranda Ramirez to step up

Courtesy of The ACC

Sophomore Gabriela Knutson will lead Syracuse this season, especially with senior Valeria Salazar out for the year.

Gabriela Knutson isn’t the only player who needs to step up this season. Syracuse’s temporary-No. 1 singles player will try to partner with freshman Miranda Ramirez to make up for the loss of Valeria Salazar.

Last week, Syracuse head coach Younes Limam said Salazar, a senior, would miss the rest of the season due to a right wrist injury. Salazar had paired with Knutson to form one of the Top 10 doubles teams in the country. As of Feb. 8, she ranked No. 54 at singles, Syracuse’s highest-ranked player. With Salazar out, Syracuse (1-4, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) looks mainly to Knutson and Ramirez to step up.

The loss of Salazar means each SU player moves up a spot and Ramirez may play with Knutson at the first doubles spot. In Salazar’s absence, the two played together at No. 1 doubles in three matches.

“I think that we have game styles that work well with each other,” Ramirez said. “I think we complement each other while we’re on the court.”

Ramirez pointed to their attacking styles as effective. When one plays an aggressive shot, the other can take advantage by winning the point at the net. Syracuse will need its healthy players to do their part to win matches, regardless of the spot they end up playing in.

Both Knutson and Limam have said the players on SU are “versatile,” and can play with one another in various combinations. Not limited to specific lineups, Limam can choose his spots on a match-by-match basis.

“We don’t really pay attention much to the numbers, one, two, three,” Limam said. “The good news is we have enough depth to go out there and try to get four points against any team, and that’s the mentality we need to have moving forward.”

Salazar already missing time this season forced Knutson to learn how to play with a different partner. That experience will help her now as the team moves forward without Salazar.

“I kind of trying to implement what I learned with her (Salazar), and try to put that into doubles with somebody else,” Knutson said. “So kind of like the little things that we, different small things that we did to kind of make us more in sync, I definitely try to do that with other doubles partners.”

It has yet to be decided who Knutson’s partner will be in the first doubles pairing. The team has seven healthy players, six of whom will play doubles. Whoever is playing the best each week will determine the matchups.

“I definitely think that we can play as well without her (Salazar),” Knutson said. “… We just have to make it work.”

— Asst. copy editor Andrew Graham contributed reporting to this story


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