When Jeremy Sonkin arrived at Wisconsin four years ago toplay tennis, he was facing high expectations and was immediately thrust into ahigh-pressure situation.As a freshman, he was asked to play in the second singlesposition, a daunting task for a young player.“I was kind of the youngster amongst a bunch ofupperclassmen, and it was really kind of intimidating at first,” Sonkinsaid. “In such a short time I was asked to really be a person to followand set an example.”How did he respond to such a challenge? By posting 24 wins,the highest win total for any player on the team that season. In his secondseason, he was named one of the captains of the team, evidence of his abilityas a leader and a player.“By my sophomore year I really felt that I was of theability to be in the captain position, just from already playing at such a highlevel my freshman year and kind of experiencing some of the country’s besttalent,” Sonkin said. “I really felt ready to handle the leadershipposition and do a good job motivating my teammates.”He followed up his freshman effort with a similarperformance, posting a 25-11 record. However, he played solely at the No. 1singles position throughout the season.After the impressive opening seasons, Sonkin hit a roughspot in what appeared to be the beginning of a very promising career. He wasthe victim of an unfortunate accident where he was hit by a car while ridinghis moped. While he was recovering and unable to participate in matches, hestruggled with the idea of not being able to travel and contribute to the team.“It was really a different perspective for meconsidering a lot of my support was done from the sideline, and I could nottravel with the team,” Sonkin said. “College tennis is all about theteam and helping pull one another through tough matches and rough spots, so forme it was very, very hard not to be able to at least be there to support myteam.”With his injury and the addition of some new young players,Sonkin saw a decreased role on the team, fluctuating between the first andthird singles positions. He finished the season with a sub-standard record of9-12, and his position for his senior season was up in the air.Now a senior, Sonkin has once again been named captain, buthe finds himself as the No. 4 singles player for the team. Despite thedifficulties in adjusting from first singles to fourth singles, he has beenable to maintain a positive attitude and a team-first mentality.“It was a very hard adjustment,” Sonkin said.“A lot of times it was really evident that it bothered me, and it’s beensuch a learning experience for me. I had to forget about the past, forget aboutwhere I was, even as a junior, and I just had to realize that at this point intime, its not about me. You’re on a team, and you’re all in this together, sono matter where you are in the lineup, it’s all about getting that point tohelp the team win.”Head coach Greg Van Emburgh has been delighted with the waySonkin has dealt with his changing role on the team.“I think he’s grown tremendous amounts not only as aplayer but as a person,” Van Emburgh said. “He’s really starting tocome into his full stride right now as we get into the real important part ofour season. … He’s had a lot of setbacks with injuries, but Jeremy is thetype of kid who really fights through those obstacles and adversities and keepsa positive look on everything.”Though he started off the season playing poorly, losing sixof his first eight matches, Sonkin has found himself with a renewed sense ofconfidence late in the season and is now playing better tennis, winning five ofhis last seven matches.“Jeremy’s done whatever the team has asked of him. He’swon some big matches, and he hasn’t complained,” senior Nolan Polley said.“He’s been playing really well these past couple months, and I’m hopingthat he can keep it up and we can finish out strong.”Sonkin is also very excited about the way he has beenplaying of late, as he has come into his own in the fourth singles position.“Maybe me being the four is a blessing,” Sonkinsaid. “Maybe that’s a spot now that we know we can always get a win atbecause I feel like now with my confidence back, I should not be losing toanybody in this country playing No. 4 in singles, given my experience, mytalent and how much I want to win and how much I hate losing.”Sonkin’s resurgence on the court has been accompanied by thesuccess of the team as a whole. The team has gone 11-3 over its last 14 gamesand is now vying for second place in the Big Ten.“Quite truthfully, we have players who do an incrediblejob at the 1-3 positions, who are really proving that they deserve to be inthose spots, and they’ve been showing that match after match,” Sonkinsaid. “Knowing that, it takes more pressure off of me just because I’m soconfident that they’re up there and they’ve been doing well.”Even if he is no longer playing in first position, Sonkinknows what it takes to win and has welcomed his new role on the team with openarms. He has been a big contributor to the success of the team and he willcontinue to be a key factor in the teams’ success as they approach theculmination of this season.
Published on February 22, 2017 at 7:13 pm Contact Sam: email@example.com | @Sam4TR Facebook Twitter Google+ What now constitutes as “experienced” on Syracuse’s defense is less than a year spent as a starter.Evan Molloy, a backup 10 months ago, now barks orders from the net as a grizzled guru. Injuries and graduation have forced the redshirt senior into the leadership position on a defense with a former fourth man, a fresh-faced sophomore and transitioning long-stick midfielder. Molloy has an approach manicured over years of goaltending: Be really, really loud.“I make my voice really deep,” Molloy said, speaking normally. “It doesn’t sound like this. I’m yelling at people. It’s intense.”Syracuse’s current defense — Tyson Bomberry, Marcus Cunningham and Scott Firman — combined for one start at their positions entering the year. But it’s the group Syracuse must roll with after preseason All-American defender Nick Mellen, who started all but one game last season, needed season-ending surgery.Albany exposed Syracuse’s new defensive line last Saturday like Siena never could with skip passes and quick rotations. Now, No. 6 Syracuse (2-0) needs Molloy to be the antidote for inexperience by preparing and directing teammates for when Army (2-1) visits the Carrier Dome on Saturday at noon.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“(Molloy) is very local, which helps our defense play well as a unit,” SU head coach John Desko said. “He’s like a quarterback out there. Communication is important. … He’s been the strength of our defense.”The coach now heaping high praise passed on starting Molloy last season but reversed his decision after eight games. Immediately, Desko noticed, defensive communication improved. The fluidity of slides, second slides and recovers increased. Syracuse’s clearing improved from 88 percent to 93. “He really turned some things around for us,” Desko said.Molloy transitioned into the larger role midseason, leaning on senior stalwarts Jay McDermott and Brandon Mullins. This season, roles reversed.“I love playing for Evan,” redshirt sophomore Cunningham said. “He bails you out all the time and he’s very vocal. …. Even though usually we are in a good spot, he’s always reminding you where you need to be.”Molloy, though, cannot communicate what he does not see. But therein lies his strength as a goaltender, he said. Because Jamie Molloy, his father, introduced him to lacrosse in Manhasset, New York, at age 5, Molloy said he often recognizes offensive sets and angles.He compares it to playing football and walking to the line of scrimmage. You can’t exactly explain how you know the defense will blitz, but you yell to alert your teammates anyway. The confidence to direct as Molloy did last season as a career backup comes from Jamie. His father holds the career saves record at SU and still says, according to Molloy, that he could play wide receiver in the NFL. Projecting unfailing confidence has been passed down and now signifies one of Molloy’s strongest traits.“It’s just my IQ,” Molloy said of his strength in net. “I’ve been playing the game since I was 5. … I’m just a good leader inherently. I’m in the net and (defenders) hear my voice, their ears perk up. ‘He’s telling me something I got to do.’ Then they realize someone’s wide open in the crease.”The vocal and fundamental soundness reminds ESPN lacrosse analyst Mark Dixon of other great Syracuse goalies, such as John Galloway and Jay Pfeifer. The 6-foot, 176-pound redshirt senior’s frame, read-and-react style and steadying influence fit the archetype.The Orange needs a calming presence now more than ever. The experience has already hurt Syracuse two games into the season with struggles against Albany. When SU faced a 6-1 hole against the Great Danes, Desko shifted lineups by rotating Austin Fusco and Andrew Helmer at long-stick midfielder and even subbed off Cunningham for true freshman Nick DiPietro in long spurts. The defense clamped down and didn’t allow a goal in the next 30:38 en route to a 10-9 win. But Desko credited Molloy and his four second-half saves to cool a scalding offense and play SU back into the game.The result didn’t surprised teammates. And Molloy even less. But they know it’s only the beginning of the defense’s transition. Impromptu adjustments require time to normalize and, until then, Molloy will push Syracuse forward with direction from behind.“I have the best view because (defenders) are all focused on their men,” Molloy said. “Their back might be turned, but I’m in the net. I can see everything.” Comments