Anna Shkudun rides improved serve to No. 42 ranking

first_img Related Stories Anna Shkudun and Syracuse take down St. John’s to improve to 6-0Anna Shkudun adjusts to college game and leadership position as 1st-year grad student Not much was working for Anna Shkudun on Sunday afternoon. Virginia’s Danielle Collins caught Shkudun off guard with a drop shot after a series of hard hits in the first set — one Shkudun would eventually lose, 6-1.But down 3-1 in the second set, Shkudun brushed her hair back and uncorked a vicious serve that whistled by Collins, the No. 3 singles player in the country, who looked at the line judge in disbelief. Two games later, still down, Shkudun powered a perfectly placed serve that tied Collins up like an inside fastball sawing off a hitter’s bat.Twice, a Shkudun serve ricocheted off Collins’ handle, shooting straight up to the ceiling of Drumlins Country Club. Each time, Collins threw her hands to her side in frustration as the ball came down from its launch. Although Collins cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 victory, Shkudun dominated one part of the game: her serve.“I would have to say (the serve) is one of my favorite shots,” Shkudun said. “The final result of the match depends on how I serve. If I feel confident with it, I’m pretty sure that I will play the match good, lots of aces.”In her first year at SU, Shkudun, a graduate student, has made minor tweaks to her power shot that have led her to a No. 42 singles player ranking and 6-2 singles record. Her play, especially her serve, has helped Syracuse (7-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) to its highest ever ranking by the International Tennis Federation — No. 33, nationally.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textShkudun can deliver hard serves, but also expertly place them. She can hit it wide, leaving her opponent no option other than to stretch toward the ball. She can aim to the body and handcuff her opponent. She can serve down the middle of the court and eliminate her opponent’s angles.“It’s really nice to be able to practice against her because you know once you get into a match,” sophomore Nicole Mitchell said, “you’re not going to have anyone who’s going to be able to serve that well.”Of SU’s eight matches, seven have been played indoors, where the conditions are faster than those outside, which Shkudun said people have told her adds 3-5 miles per hour to her serves.Yet, Shkudun has “no idea” how fast she can serve. She’s never had it clocked and nobody’s ever told her the speed of it. Head coach Younes Limam estimates it tops out at over 90 mph.When Shkudun arrived at SU, she worked with the coaches to make subtle tweaks to her power shot. She’s jumping higher at the start of her serve, which has allowed her to connect her racket with the ball a couple of inches higher, and tossing the ball a couple of inches out in front of her. Both have added power and velocity to her serve.“Her serve has been there for her the whole time,” Limam said. “It’s just a matter of trusting it more and really using it as a weapon.”Until two years ago, Shkudun was constantly toying with her serve. It’s always been powerful, she said, but never consistent. She worked with several coaches in the Ukraine, her home country, but each coach would say something different than the other and advise her to make adjustments. One told her to change her body movement. A second adjusted her leg positioning. Another the height of her toss.“My serve was unstable, you know?” she said, “because all the time you have to change the movement, it’s not good.”Two years ago, while playing tournaments in the Ukraine, Shkudun found what meshed for her. Despite the adjustments she’s made this season, Shkudun has largely stuck to it and is reaping the benefits. Comments Published on February 25, 2016 at 12:03 am Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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