TENNIS : Safdar brings unique experiences into freshman season at Syracuse

first_imgKomal Safdar suffered a chipped bone in her right wrist a year and a half ago. The injury was likely due to wear and tear on her wrist.Rather than giving up, the right-handed Syracuse freshman used the injury as motivation. She developed a brilliant left-handed game highlighted by a killer serve and tenacious overhead during her rehabilitation process. Safdar played her teammates in high school and college with her non-dominant hand and frequently came away victoriously.‘Komal did her diligence with rehab,’ Syracuse head coach Luke Jensen said. ‘She’s followed the advice of the trainers, and she never took a day off with the thought all the time that she would get back and play and represent the Orange.’Now Safdar is back to playing right-handed in her freshman season with Syracuse, but she has the secret weapon of switching to her left hand if the need arises. After getting medical clearance on Jan. 16, Safdar did just that, playing No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles for Syracuse (2-2, 1-1 Big East) against Texas Christian five days later. Safdar dropped both matches, but bounced back with decisive victories that helped the Orange beat St. John’s and Buffalo.Safdar arrived at SU after an accomplished career at Ursuline Academy (Ohio) that included winning Greater Cincinnati player of the year in 2010. She earned first-team all-state honors all four years and also won the state doubles tournament with her sister.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe freshman brings that winning mentality to the Orange program. It’s something Jensen noticed when he first scouted her at a tournament in Michigan when she was 14.Jensen said Safdar’s doubles partner was the worst player on the court, but rather than getting discouraged, Safdar remained calm. She offered words of encouragement and kept the match close.‘There’s an aura about Komal that I saw on that day that continues to be true today,’ Jensen said.Through three matches at Syracuse, Safdar has impressed her coaches and teammates.Safdar plays in pants and opponents often give Safdar quizzical looks. She plays tennis in clothing that covers her body because of her religious beliefs. But those inquiring looks typically turn into a dropped jaw as Safdar rips groundstroke after groundstroke to earn the win.‘She’s like a Clark Kent superhero,’ Jensen said. ‘She’s such a great problem solver, and she doesn’t get overwhelmed by the environment or the situation.‘I think it’s her ability to compete at such a high level, with any situation in front of her, that gives her this superpower to work the situation and come out with a victory.’Safdar hopes to become a professional tennis player, but she is also on the premed track and excels academically.Senior Alessondra Parra said Safdar has a burning desire to improve in all she does on and off the court. During Winter Break, the team traveled to Florida to train together. Though Safdar didn’t have any homework or classes to worry about, she brought a chemistry book to study.‘She would wake up early in the morning before practice, and she would just read it, just to be better and get ahead and do the best job she could in her classes,’ Parra said. ‘She has the same approach on the tennis court.’Safdar started playing tennis at a young age with her sisters, Mehvish and Nida, and her parents. The family learned the game together and got better as a group. At age 8, Komal began taking lessons and entering tournaments.She then went on to play in high school, honing her skills while also learning how to be part of a team. In her first year in the SU program, Safdar appears to be fitting in well as a key to the Orange’s success.‘I think the biggest thing about playing in high school is that it taught me how to be on a team,’ Safdar said. ‘I learned how to cheer for others and how to be there for them.’[email protected] Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on January 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Trevor: [email protected] | @TrevorHasslast_img

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