Salazar thrives with aggressiveness at net heading into Albany matchup

first_img Published on February 5, 2015 at 12:51 am Contact Kevin: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Listed at 5 feet, 4 inches Valeria Salazar is one of shortest players for Syracuse. In fact, she and doubles partner Komal Safdar are the two shortest players on the team.Salazar’s teammates may occasionally poke fun at her for being short, but that doesn’t stop her from playing her aggressive game, which includes strong and unpredictable net play.So far this season, her net game has helped her to win three singles matches and three doubles matches with Safdar on the nation’s 59th-ranked doubles team. Salazar will look to carry her success further as No. 53 Syracuse (4-1) takes on Albany (2-0) on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Drumlins Tennis Center.Being a little bit taller would help Salazar’s game in some ways, she said, and that a few extra inches would help her when she poaches at the net.“I don’t know if I see it as a disadvantage … it depends the kind of player that you have,” SU head coach Younes Limam said. “For example, somebody like Valeria, she’s got unbelievable hands and she’s very quick, so that’s something that she relies on and that she does really well.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen she’s playing at the net in doubles play, Salazar is always anticipating the ball so that she can poach shots that come her way. She maintains a low position and split-steps when her opponent hits the ball, and when the ball comes her way, she makes sure to use a blocking motion as opposed to a swing.Senior Amanda Rodgers recognizes her teammate’s strong net play and said Salazar’s unpredictability at the net helps her in matches.“She’s always looking to poach, and she fakes really well at the net … So you don’t really know when she’s going to stay or when she’s going to go,” said Rodgers, who is a contributing writer for The Daily Orange. “She also has a lot of touch, but she also has a lot of power, too, so you don’t know when she’s going to hit a drop shot, when she’s going to hit a power shot.”Her set of skills at the net makes her well-equipped for doubles play, in which she often finds herself at the net with partner Safdar at the baseline.But even when she plays singles it is a strong part of her game.“I’m an aggressive player in singles as well and I come in a lot,” said Salazar.She’s careful about making sure she waits for the right time to do so, so that she doesn’t leave areas of the court open. But when the opportunity arises, she hits deep shots that allow her to advance toward the net.It is easier for a player who is shorter to be lobbed at the net. But putting herself on the other side of the court, Salazar said the size of her opponent doesn’t affect the way she plays her game.“I just play my regular game,” Salazar said, “whether I’m playing a big girl or a short girl.” Commentslast_img