first_imgCameron Morra patrolled the baseline, crossed her feet twice and dropped her right side of her hip back. The Tar Heel freshman eyed up Guzal Yusupova’s soft rally and fired a forehand toward Dina Hegab at the net. With limited time to set herself, Hegab raised her racket in defense, and as the ball bounced off the knob of Hegab’s racket, it hit the ground.The point gave the Tar Heels a 5-3 lead, and Syracuse’s third doubles pairing never recovered in their tiebreaker. Two points later, SU players, who had jumped up and down with smiles on their faces prior, hung their heads. Shoulders slumped. Their demeanor flipped from a potential early lead over the No. 2 team in the nation. SU head coach Younes Limam told his players doubles was just 15 percent of the match and that there’s still 85 percent of the points available.For a period of time, his messaged resonated. Three Syracuse singles slots won first sets, but then UNC recovered — the talent disparity showing. The Tar Heels used momentum from doubles to eventually overpower the Orange in singles, taking four of the six matches. No. 32 Syracuse (11-7, 4-5 Atlantic Coast) failed to capitalize on a chance for a monumental upset, and dropped a 5-2 decision to No. 2 North Carolina (21-1, 9-0) on Friday evening. The differences — a few bounces, a few calls, a few aggressive shots — distanced the Orange. Syracuse hung with North Carolina, until it couldn’t anymore.“We were right there,” Limam said. “We’re not satisfied by playing a close match against a team that was pretty highly ranked.”Over an hour before the match started, Syracuse players stretched with arm bands on the umpire chair, and hopped on one foot through an agility ladder.  When they were dragged back to the individual courts, the Orange had a chance to make history. They had never beaten North Carolina, and the last time they scored more than one point against the Tar Heels came in 1987, before anyone on the current SU roster was born. The Tar Heels had two doubles pairings in the top-10, and four singles players in the top-25. Syracuse had none.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textDespite a four-game loss by Miranda Ramirez and Gabriela Knutson at first doubles, Syracuse had the opportunity to become the first program that defeated the Tar Heels in doubles this season. Trailing 6-5, Hegab held serve and sent it to a tiebreaker. Limam sprinted out onto the court and told Hegab and Yusupova to push Morra and Daavettila before they controlled the point. Wait for their shot, he said, but find it quickly. The ensuing point, Yusupova smashed a volley between the UNC pair. Then, a rally was returned into the net courtesy of Morra. But just like the other matches to come, SU couldn’t finish. “I like how we played to most of the points,” Limam said. “They just came up with some big shots in big moments.”In singles, three SU players won the first set, but only Hegab could win the next. When SU controlled the momentum after the first set of singles, it couldn’t find a way to maintain it. Knutson cruised in her first set against No. 5 Makenna Jones, but needed six straight wins in order to escape with a three set victory. In the second set, it was Knutson pinned her in the corners and sprawled across the baseline. Jones’ shoes squeaked across the floor in the first set, but in the second, they were Knutson’s.More “controlled aggression” from Morra allowed her to erase a Masha Tritou early lead, Limam said. Tritou watched as Morra sent winners down the lines, slices that couldn’t be reached and lobs that Tritou mishit. The SU senior won only one game in the final two sets. “We had a chance to win, we definitely did,” Knutson said. “But unfortunately today we just didn’t.”Golubovskaya and Ramirez never recovered from a lost first set, and after many points, they hung their heads, threw hands and hit rackets against the wall. Early in her second set, Golubovskaya’s left elbow flashed to her face as she wound up for a forehand. Her rally sailed out, and she lifted her head toward the ceiling. Two points later, Golubovskaya’s return couldn’t land on her court — it flew onto Knutson’s next to her.As the individual nets were dragged across the courts once singles matches wrapped up, UNC was all smiles. With the exception of a Knutson and Ramirez hug, SU stretched in silence. They lunged and reached to the ceiling but lacked the energy from the match’s peak points when they looked poised to test the Tar Heels. But as the last stretch ended, the same result showed on the scoreboard: another loss to a ranked opponent.“I think this is something we can learn from,” Hegab said. “We’re not far.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 29, 2019 at 9:34 pm Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @CraneAndrewlast_img read more