Gabriela Knutson provides bright spot during Syracuse’s 2-match losing streak

first_img Published on March 9, 2016 at 10:15 pm Contact Charlie: csdistur@syr.edu | @charliedisturco Facebook Twitter Google+ Gabriela Knutson was falling behind in the second set, and, after losing in the first in a tiebreak, was nearing what could be the first singles loss in her collegiate career. After she hit a backhand that landed just past the baseline, she dropped her head and looked at the floor. A few seconds later, she bent over, set her feet on the ground, and readied for the next serve. “I’m the kind of player that needs to relax when I’m playing, otherwise I’ll be too focused on the match and go crazy,” Knutson said.Eventually, her opponent hit a ball that Knutson failed to return. She let out a scream. This time, she dropped her head again. She had lost her first game in what would be Syracuse’s (8-3, 2-3 Atlantic Coast) eighth win of the year.The game was one of back-to-back losses for Knutson, as she wound up losing another match when the Orange played No. 6 Duke the following meet. But since then, she’s bounced back. She factored into both points Syracuse won against North Carolina State on Sunday. She will be a key player when the team plays Georgia Tech (7-5, 2-1) on Friday on the road.“(Gabriela) was very, very solid,” head coach Younes Limam said. “She kept her focus and she took it to the girl. I was very pleased with how she competed all weekend long.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter SU’s win over Notre Dame, the Orange traveled on a two-game road trip to North Carolina and boasted its highest ranking in school history at No. 24.With the first match against Duke, Knutson and her teammate Valeria Salazar took the court, playing in the No. 1 doubles slot. The pair won the first doubles match against Duke. It would be one of the two matches the team won that day. SU won another doubles match, earning Syracuse its only point in the match.In the singles match, Knutson faltered a bit. She fell in a tiebreak during the first set, 7-6. Duke’s Ellyse Hamlin held off any potential comeback in the second set, handing Knutson her second loss of the year. SU then faced N.C. State, and the combination of Knutson and Salazar won its second doubles match of the weekend. The victory, 6-4, over the Wolfpack’s Martina Frantova and Tayla Stenta, and captured their sixth straight win this season. With the two wins, Knutson and Salazar’s jumped to No. 26 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s doubles rankings. The duo was previously unranked. Knutson then beat Bianca Moldovan in singles play. A quick 6-2, 6-1 win secured Syracuse’s second point of the match.Despite SU’s recent struggles, Knutson has been the most consistent performer for the Orange. “Gabriela had a great weekend, Friday and Sunday,” Limam said about Knutson. “I thought she competed really hard on Friday, she just came up a little bit short (against Duke in singles).” Commentslast_img read more

Joy Sports Ghana football review: Jan-June 2015

first_imgAfter bringing to you a review of the major sporting events in the first six months of the year, Joy Sports zooms further into football in Ghana. In this #JoySports special wrap, we highlight the major football events in Ghana and that which the various national teams were involved in.AFCON 2015The 30th edition of the continent’s premier cup competition initially scheduled for Morocco, but later played in Equatorial Guinea was especially important for Ghana’s Black Stars. This was because the team wanted redemption following its shameful appearance at the last major tournament, Brazil 2014.It was also important because it was the first major test for Ghana’s new coach, Avram Grant. The Israeli had been appointed six weeks to the start of the tournament.Before the games Ghana captain, Asamoah Gyan had contracted malaria ahead of the competition and many pundits believed Grant’s decision to take him along to the competition was a risky one. There was also the controversy of travelling to Spain for preps. Was the Mediterranean climate a good idea given that the tournament was slated for tropical Equatorial Guinea? The topsy turvy storyAhead of the competition, there was little interest in the Black Stars’ campaign. Apart from the public’s animosity following Brazil 2014, the country had been plunged into a bitter electricity crisis which saw many miss some games.A 2-1 loss to Senegal in the opening group game did little to help the team sway public support. Many on Ghana’s social media space blatantly wished for the team to fail and were happy at the result. This very un-Ghanaian attitude from fans towards their much-beloved team must have spoken volumes to the players as in their next game, Gyan – after mildly recovering from malaria – scored a dramatic 89th minute goal to win the game for Ghana 1-0. Ghana’s next game saw the Stars’ triumph over South Africa, 2-1. The team’s progress into the knockout stage saw a slight return of positive vibes from Ghanaians. Ghana seemed to be on a good run after recording an impressive 3-0 win over Guinea in the quarters.The bubble seemed destined for a bust after a gruesome attack from Guinea goal keeper, Naby Yattara on the Stars skipper. This was close to the end of the game when Ghana was already leading by three goals. Gyan was forced to miss the semi-final with the hosts.The madness of the hosts That match marred all the successes the country had achieved; hosting a continental tournament with less than three months of preparation. The home fans pelted the Ghana team with bottles and other objects as the team made their way to the dressing room after half time when Ghana was leading by two unanswered goals.With police protection, the team came back onto the field and scored another goal. The Ghana fans at this point were being attacked by the home fans. The supporters were forced to abandon their seats and come just behind one of the goal posts to escape the objects being thrown at them. The match resumed after about a half-an- hour break. Ghana went on to the final to face neighbours the Ivory Coast. After 90 minutes of regulation time and 30 minutes of extra time, it had to be settled on penalties. After the Ivorians had missed their first two penalties, it was assumed Ghana was on its way to win a title after three decades of trying. Or so we thought. Ghana let that opportunity slip when both Afriyie Acquah and Frank Acheampong missed their penalties. Almost a repetition of the 1992 final, it went all the way to 17 kicks. A visibly reluctant Ghana keeper, Razak Braimah, fell for the cunning antics of opposition goalie; Bubakar Barry who faked injury right before Braimah’s kick.Between the time it took for his medics to attend to him and the kick, the mind game seemed to have worked as Braimah missed. A miraculously recovered Barry stepped up and hit home to win the cup for the Elephants for a second time in a 9-8 penalty shootout.Once again, Ghanaian hearts were broken because of penalty kicks. After  Aside the silver medal, Ghana came out with many of the tourney’s individual awards. An inconsolable Dede Ayew won highest goal scorer with three goals and two assists; Christian Atsu with the player of the tournament and newcomer Kwesi Appiah won the Fair Play Award.Some of the stand-out players from the competition on the Ghana team side were midfielders Mubarak Wakaso and Afriyie Acquah and youngster Baba Rahman. The trio with their brilliant performances appear to have cemented their place in the Ghana squad of Avram Grant.The competition proved that Christian Atsu was not an over-rated player but one that needed more play time especially at his club. Equatorial Guinea were unsurprisingly handed a meagre punishment of one closed door home match and a $100,000 fine.After all, they saved CAF from the embarrassment of not being able to stage its showpiece event.   Local Black StarsWith the senior team coming so close in the Afcon, it was expected that the CHAN team will do Ghana proud in the COSAFA Cup in May. Despite the impressive run of the senior men’s team, the local Black Stars prematurely exited the COSAFA Cup as an invitee after playing just one game. Disaster all round.Hearts, Kotoko crash out of AfricaThe First Capital Plus Premier League was not short of drama. In February, Hearts of Oak stunned arch rivals Asante Kotoko at the latter’s home grounds. Didi Dramani was shown the door after the 1-0 loss to Hearts.During Didi’s reign, the Porcupines had won two league titles and an FA cup. He was replaced by David Duncan who had not won any major title. But Kotoko’s woes continued as the club crashed out of the CAF Champions League once again.After the El Eulma game in which they crashed out, a GFA Status Committee member, Kofi Manu aka Blue Blue, alleged that the players do not give themselves the necessary rest. He asserted that the players spent their nights “making calls, browsing the web and [most importantly] watching porn.”Great Olympics continued their woeful Premier League campaign despite the return of football “veterans” Richard Kingson, Godwin Attram and Dan Quaye. On the upside, the Accra-derby proved it had the potential of pulling a big crowd – by Ghanaian standards – as an impressive 15,000 fans thronged the national stadium to watch Hearts and Olympics play a thrilling goalless draw game.The U20sThe Men’s under-20 team went to Senegal for the Africa Youth Championship where they got the bronze medal. Their semi-final finish ensured an automatic entry into the World Cup in New Zealand. After topping their group, the Satellites faced Senegal in the Round of 16 where they lost 3-0 to the Senegalese.Despite the disappointing finish, some members of Ghana’s squad have been spotted for their brilliance. They include Clifford Aboagye, goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi and skipper Owusu Bempah. World Cup winning coach, Sellas Tetteh, continues to enjoy the Football Association’s support despite calls for his sacking from some quarters. Black Queens, Meteors in AAGAlthough, the Black Meteors qualified to play in the All Africa Games along with the Black Queens, they have failed to make it to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The Queens are still in contention, though as they have some qualifiers to play.Brazil 2014 ghost hauntsThe Presidential Commission set up to look into Ghana’s bad showing at Brazil 2014 presented its findings. But before then, the government released a White Paper in which it rejected some of the commission’s findings, including a call for former Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah to refund misappropriated monies.Elvis, who cried at a commission sitting in 2014, vehemently denied wrongdoing. The Ghana FA accused the Dzamefe Commission of “witch-hunting” and threatened legal actions after some damning allegations were made about them.The FA is unhappy that the commission described an Equipment Officer, who was paid 100, 000 dollars, as a “ball boy” in order to provoke public outcry.The 399 page report, which would set anyone interested in reading it back 120 cedis, remains contentious as it has come under fire from many analyst for merely exposing graft in the football administration (which is unsurprising to ordinary Ghanaians) but failed to proffer solutions to the identified. ALSO..The six month period also saw former skipper Stephen Appiah hang his boots in a well-attended send-off game in Accra. Appiah, 34, is however expected to continue in the game on the technical side. Andre Ayew, who took over Appiah’s number 10 shirt, signed a transfer move from his boyhood club, Marseille to Swansea City where he would taste EPL action for the first time. Jones bows outThe period unfortunately saw the passing away of a man credited for the rise of many of Ghana’s footballing giants. Cecil Jones Attuquayefio was part of the Ghana team that won the 1965 Africa Cup of Nations. The coaching legend was responsible for the grooming of the likes of Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essien and Kwadwo Asamoah. Jones died aged 70 in Accra after battling throat cancer.He died on May 12.Let’s not forget how a redeemed Black Stars beat visiting Mauritius 7-1 in June during Afcon 2017 qualifiers. The game saw first international goals for Jeffery Schlupp and David Accam.Wonder what the next six months will bring us? July – December will definitely give us even more headlines.–Kwasi Gyamfi is with the #JoySports team. Follow on Twitter @KG_Asiedu. Get more with the #JoySports hashtag on Facebook/Twitter. Additional reporting by Gary Al-Smith–last_img read more