TENNIS : Drop shot: Jensen sees most cohesive unit in 5-year tenure despite loss of key trio


first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on January 26, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Emily Harman walked off the court without finishing her match.Notre Dame had clinched a victory over the Syracuse tennis team in the second round of the 2010 Big East tournament, and there was nothing Harman could do about it. She left the court with the empty, disappointed feeling because her match could not make a difference.After congratulating her opponent, she and the Syracuse team trudged through the inclement weather to the van. The players and coaches piled in for the long drive that would conclude their season. Before they made their way back to Syracuse, however, the team had a talk.Head coach Luke Jensen congratulated his team on its hard work to get to the tournament. Every girl spoke about what the season had meant to her.‘It was a very emotional moment for all of us,’ Harman said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat was just the start of a whirlwind, emotional offseason for SU. In the nine months since the loss to Notre Dame, three key players have dropped off the roster, including C.C. Sardinha, a freshman last season who moved up to the No. 1 singles spot, and Eleanor Peters, who had the most collective wins of any member of the Orange.Despite this, however, Jensen thinks the Orange has solidified into a more cohesive team. And in his fifth year at the helm of a Syracuse program he built from the ground up, Jensen will rely on the seniors of his first recruiting class, combined with a mix of youth, to get over the loss of those two players and departing senior Chelsea Jones. And to aim for his No. 1 target: Notre Dame.‘Notre Dame is our target,’ Jensen said. ‘It’s got to be our target.’That won’t be easy with the losses. Sardinha transferred to Oklahoma State shortly after SU’s loss in the Big East tournament. She was a highly touted recruit who quickly worked her way up from the bottom of SU’s singles lineup to the top. She went 16-5 in singles play last season.Sardinha informed the coaching staff of her decision shortly after the Big East tournament. Jensen said she left to be closer to her grandmother. But Harman thought she was considering the move even before the tournament.‘I didn’t know personally from her,’ Harman said. ‘I had my suspicions, but you never know with collegiate teams.’Peters was unable to return to the team because she wasn’t granted a redshirt year, Jensen said. Peters hovered around the middle of the lineup but had the most wins of anyone on the team.Jensen said Peters is playing in professional tournaments near her home in Washington, D.C. Harman and Jensen also said Peters is another huge, unexpected loss to the team.And the last part of those losses is Jones, a departing senior who walked on to the team the year before Jensen took over as the head coach. Jones hadn’t been on the professional circuit, unlike all of SU’s younger players. Despite being a strong doubles player, she was unable to provide the same experience on the court.With those three important pieces gone, SU will rely on three freshmen to fill the void: Maddie Kobelt, Aleah Marrow and Eva Raszkiewicz. The time they’ve spent playing professional tournaments has put them in a good position to do so.‘They’ll fight their tails off to the very end, and that’s what we need,’ Harman said. ‘No negative energy at all. It’s great to be with them. It’s great to have them on the team. They make me better every day.’This group of recruits contributes to the cohesiveness of the team because they buy into what the team is doing, Jensen said. College has more of a team aspect than playing on the pro circuit, and Jensen tries to emphasize that with his players.Each of those recruits brings something unique to the Orange. Jensen thinks Marrow is the best athlete he has had in his five years at SU. Raszkiewicz came over from Europe after much convincing from Jensen. And Kobelt has one of the best all-around games Jensen has seen at Syracuse.But the attitude of cohesion is what stood out most to Kobelt when she visited SU.‘What stuck in my mind was the attitude that the girls had,’ she said. ‘All the girls on this team — even though they were dead in the battle of their matches — they were all cheering for themselves and cheering for their teammates and being supportive.’And the second part of replacing those players includes Jensen’s first recruiting class — now seniors — stepping up. Seniors Christina Tan and Simone Kalhorn, who were already captains last year with the absence of more experienced seniors, will lead the way. Tan said beyond their ability on the court, however, it is their familiarity with SU tennis in particular that has helped the recruits.‘We’ve been through the program for three and a half years now, so the experience is there,’ Tan said. ‘In terms of knowing exactly what’s going on and really helping the newer ones with everything, with on-court stuff and off-court stuff.’The cohesion of the team also leads to an even playing field and tight competition. Tan said the entire team has a pretty even skill level, so anyone could end up at No. 1 on any given week.After close challenge matches, Alessondra Parra earned that spot for this weekend’s matches. This will be the first time in her two and a half seasons at SU that Parra will move above No. 3.‘I think we have a team that is very equal,’ Jensen said. ‘Usually on a team you get one, two, maybe three players that set themselves apart from everybody else. But this year we truly have the deepest team, the most solid across the board.’The defeat in the Big East tournament and the loss of Jones, Peters and Sardinha set SU back. At the beginning of the fall, there was no knowing what would become of the eight players who showed up for fall tennis. Yet after just a few months of playing together, the team has become a single unit. And despite the losses, Jensen thinks he has a better squad than last season.Jensen said if the 2011 team were to play the 2010 team, the former would win simply because it’s a ‘better collective.’This collective now has one objective: beat Notre Dame. Jensen said this is the goal. Harman should not have to walk off the court mid-match unless it is for a Syracuse victory.Not individual glory. Not wins against lesser teams. Notre Dame.‘They’re the dominant team in our conference,’ Jensen said. ‘They’re a dominant team in the nation. If we can beat Notre Dame, we can beat anybody.’alguggen@syr.edulast_img read more

Toni Karačić released the list of U-21 football players


first_imgManager of BiH U-21 football team Toni Karačić has released the list of players who’ll play in an exhibition match against the team of Poland on 15 May at 7 p.m., reports radiosarajevo.baThe players to play in the match: Emir Plakalo (Sarajevo), Vedran Kjosevski (Željezničar), Renato Gojković (Sloboda), Dejan Skopljak (Aarau, Switzerland), Branimir Odak (Široki Brijeg), Jozo Špikić (Široki Brijeg), Ante Petrović (Široki Brijeg), Armin Čerimagić (Gent, Belgium), Asim Zec (Hradec Karlove, Czech Republic), Mirko Marić (Široki Brijeg), Dejan Skopljak (Aarau, Switzerland), Halil Hajtić (Kaiserslautern, Germany), Omar Marković (IK Start, Norway), Amar Rahmanović (Novi Pazar, Serbia), Damir Sadiković (Željezničar), Adis Čiva (Sarajevo), Haris Muharemović (Sarajevo), Haris Hajradinović (Inter Zaprešić, Croatia), Almir Kasumović (Hannover, Germany).Players will gather on 13 May in Vogošća and at 6 p.m. they’ll have their last training in BiH, before going to Poland, said the Football Federation of BiH.last_img read more