TENNIS : Syracuse gets preview of ACC play with match against Boston College

first_imgBoston College head coach Nigel Bentley knows all about transitioning from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Bentley guided the Eagles through the change in 2006, finishing 0-11 in the ACC a year after earning the No. 2 seed in the 2005 Big East Tournament.Bentley saw firsthand the contrast in level of play between the two conferences.‘It’s a big step up in competition,’ Bentley said. ‘It’s the best conference in the country. Every team is motivated and confident.’It’s an experience Syracuse is just a couple of seasons away from going through, when it will transition to the tougher ACC as the Eagles did six years ago. The ACC is considered one of the best, if not the best, conferences for tennis in the country. It currently has six teams ranked in the top 15 nationally, while the Big East has none.The Orange (3-3, 2-1 Big East) gets a preview of a future conference rival this Saturday, when it takes on No. 55 Boston College at 1 p.m. in Newton, Mass. Syracuse finishes the New England swing Sunday with a stop at Harvard.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse has already played three unranked teams and beat all three, but lost to the three ranked teams it has faced.The Boston College head coach also noticed a recruiting boost upon the move to the ACC, something he thinks can benefit Syracuse as well. With the country’s highest collegiate level of competition, the conference attracts the nation’s top recruits.‘Recruits know they will have the opportunity to play against the country’s best,’ Bentley said. ‘The level of tennis is higher, and we attract more skilled players.’In addition to the stronger teams that dot the conference, the ACC also has several other beneficial aspects that the Big East doesn’t offer. One major advantage is that the ACC has mandatory scheduling. In a conference filled with nationally ranked teams, the system ensures that Syracuse will maintain a challenging schedule, Bentley said.Mandatory scheduling will continue with the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, said Lee Butler, the ACC director of championships. With 14 teams, each team will play 13 conference matches.When Syracuse begins that slate, it will be challenged immediately. But an ACC tennis team earns automatic respect, Bentley said. His 2006 squad achieved a national ranking despite going winless in conference play. This season, the Eagles reached their highest national ranking ever.The respect factor plays into the professional vibe that ACC tennis projects. Upon BC’s transition, Bentley saw a conference that was more structurally sound than the Big East. The communication from top to bottom was more efficient, from management to the individual teams.Komal Safdar was recruited by Syracuse to play in the Big East. So were all her teammates. Still, they were pleased when they heard of Syracuse’s impending transition to the ACC.‘I’m extremely excited, and the team’s excited,’ Safdar said. ‘We get better competition against nationally ranked teams.’Safdar said he looks forward to the increased pace of the ACC, where players hit bigger and tend to play pressure points better. However, she and the rest of her teammates have no shortage of high-level experience after participating in competitive fall tournaments.And the difference between the conferences may not be as significant as rankings would make it seem. Since 2005, the ACC is only 43-27 against the Big East, said Steve Phillips, ACC associate director of communications.Butler said he does not expect Syracuse and Pittsburgh to serve as automatic wins for the current teams, nor do the coaches.‘The coaches expect competition,’ Butler said. ‘They know Syracuse and Pitt aren’t going to be playing second fiddle. Everyone’s excited to add these teams, and competition will be raised.’Butler also said to the ACC Championships provides the Orange with beneficial national exposure.Former Orange player Simone Kalhorn is also happy the team will get the chance to raise its level of competition. With more matches against quality teams, the Orange will have more chances to prove itself to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, Kalhorn said.‘When you have to fight for the opportunity to play ranked teams, you count on the one shot of winning the Big East to get to the NCAAs,’ Kalhorn said. ‘It will be great to play in the best tennis conference, against ranked teams every weekend.’[email protected]  Published on February 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Kevin: [email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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