TENNIS : Jensen takes team outdoors to prepare for weekend matches

first_img Published on March 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm Luke Jensen was waiting for the temperature to rise. The outdoor tennis courts sit void of nets until the ground can thaw, but the unique circumstances did not trump the Syracuse head coach’s goal of getting outside to prepare for two outdoor matchups this weekend.So this Tuesday, as the weather ascended above 30 degrees, Jensen took his team to the outdoor courts at Skytop for the first time.SU players braved blistering winds and near-freezing temperatures to prepare for their outdoor matchups with No. 49 William & Mary (10-8) and Old Dominion (10-8) this weekend. The only other time the Orange (13-5, 6-1 Big East) played outdoors was during its road trip to take on Southern California and San Diego State two weeks ago.‘We have four matches left in the regular season, and just being outside shows the quality of character we have on this team,’ Jensen said. ‘No one is complaining. They are cold, we don’t have nets, no one else is around. We’re just out here getting it done.’Jensen hopes his team will respond this weekend, but Syracuse will have to overcome more than cold weather if it hopes to defeat its two opponents. William & Mary will be the third ranked opponent the Orange has faced this season. SU is 0-2 in its first two matchups against ranked teams, USC and SDSU.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnd the Orange is coming off a 4-3 loss to Rutgers on Sunday. The loss marked SU’s first regular-season loss to a Big East opponent since March 15, 2009. Syracuse had won 20 consecutive regular-season conference matches prior to the defeat. The team was without No. 1 singles and doubles player Emily Harman, who missed the match due to personal reasons.Harman’s absence caused a quick change of SU’s game plan, and the team was unable to respond to an array of new positions and doubles pairings.‘All of the changes and last-minute stuff shouldn’t have affected our result,’ Christina Tan said. ‘We should be able to throw anybody on this team out there last minute, and we should be able to come out with the ‘W.”Junior Alessondra Parra hopes taking to the outdoor court will be a tactic that helps the team triumph past the dramatic circumstances of last weekend. The team will likely have Harman back, adding depth to the Orange lineup. Temperatures in Virginia are forecasted to be at least 60 degrees.The nets will be in place, and wind gust will not hamper the balls’ flight as it did Tuesday.‘We’re going to be playing in 60- or 70-degree weather,’ Parra said. ‘It’s going to be warmer, and I doubt it’s going to be as windy. Honestly the wind ends up helping us out here because we have to move our feet more and be prepared to set up to hit the ball well.’Jensen played in extreme conditions after growing up in Grayling, Mich., near Lake Huron. The snow was just as prevalent as it is in Syracuse, and he used a snowblower to get rid of any snow on the tennis court. Court time was a valuable entity, and Jensen did everything in his power to ensure he would get his share of it.The cold weather helped him improve in a variety of ways, and it has helped SU as well.‘For us, you have to be outside in the conditions, and you have to be in the situation where it’s windy and it’s cold,’ Jensen said. ‘The ball is going to play a little bit differently because cold weather has an effect on how the ball bounces and how the ball comes off your racket.’Jensen hopes this week’s outdoor preparation will be valuable when the Orange plays each of its matches this weekend. The players are looking forward to the opportunities to erase the current trends.‘It really depends on the way we execute,’ Jensen said. ‘You’ve seen our road record. It’s spotty. It’s not bad, but it’s not where it needs to be. We have to turn this thing around and start winning key matches against ranked teams because we want to gain some momentum heading into the Big East (tournament).’[email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img