Anna Shkudun helps Syracuse clinch first-round bye in ACC tournament in 5-2 win over Virginia Tech

first_imgAnna Shkudun’s opponent turned around, swung her racket against a green tarp, dropped her head, and gripped her racket tightly.The Syracuse graduate student had just bounced a lob shot on the end line and toward the green tarp laying a few yards back. Virginia Tech’s Francesca Fusinato backed up, hit her racket on the tarp and changed her swing’s direction. She missed the ball, which landed just a few inches away from her foot.Shkudun, the country’s No. 76 singles player, had mounted a large lead in the first set, but faltered in the middle of the second to Fusinato, the No. 45 singles player. A quick, 6-1 loss for Shkudun tied the No. 1 singles match at one set apiece.Unlike the first two sets, the third contained drawn out rallies, rare aces and multiple times there was confusion between the line judge and players. It was that set that allowed Shkudun to take home No. 32 Syracuse’s fifth point of the meet, as the Orange (13-7, 7-7 Atlantic Coast) defeated No. 30 Virginia Tech (14-9, 7-7), 5-2.“(Anna) was really gritty,” assistant coach Len Lopoo said. “There were a lot of points that were really rough. Where they were running one another side-to-side, short-deep. But she just refused to miss against an opponent who is really consistent.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn that third set, Fusinato hit a return that came close to the sideline, Shkudun raised her finger and the words “Out!” echoed through Drumlins Country Club. A quick “No, no, no, no!” came from Fusinato, who was sure the ball had landed in-bounds. Fusinato began to plead her case to the line judge, who kept his facial expressions to a minimum, saying that the ball did in fact land out of bounds.The next play, Fusinato served the ball to Shkudun, who quickly returned it for a point on her backhand.In the middle set, when Shkudun lost, 6-1, technical errors often were the reason behind Fusinato’s quick wins. Many of Shkudun’s serves failed to go over the net and her returns landed out of bounds often.Three straight times, Shkudun’s serves turned into faults. A few plays later, her outstretched racket missed the ball and she fell into a full-split. Throughout the second set, Shkudun was breathing heavily.“Sometimes in the second set I was going crazy and screaming. I was completely distracted,” Shkudun said. “I started to concentrate on playing longer rallies and (to) stay concentrated. That helped me finish the match with the win.”As Shkudun secured the win against Fusinato, she was mobbed by her teammates. High fives were passed around, as the Orange ended its last regular season game on a high note. SU finished the year .500 in the ACC and upset a division rival ranked two spots ahead of it in ITA’s team rankings.With the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament set to kick off Wednesday, April 20, Syracuse secured a bye in the first round with its win on Sunday. Shkudun’s win went a long way in helping Syracuse put itself in that position.“A lot was on the line as far as ACC seeding and NCAA,” head coach Younes Limam said about the importance of winning the meet against Virginia Tech. “We’re at a good place now.” Comments Published on April 17, 2016 at 5:11 pm Contact Charlie: [email protected] | @charliedisturco Facebook Twitter Google+last_img