first_imgAmanda Rodgers and Komal Safdar may appear to have little in common, but by the end of their sophomore year the doubles partners were able to call each other best friends. The lefty Rodgers stands at almost 6 feet tall, studies communications and rhetorical studies and has a more outgoing personality. Her usual doubles partner Safdar stands at only 5-feet, 6-inches, is a righty, studies biochemistry and is more shy. The two started playing doubles during their sophomore years and have been mostly successful since — going 2-1 in the Big East tournament together last year and starting the current season 1-1-1 as partners. Interim head coach Shelley George recently switched up doubles pairings to try and right her team’s early-season struggles, but that hasn’t changed the relationship developed by the two. “I nicknamed them ‘Team Fantastic.’ They just fit right from the very first moment,” said former Syracuse head coach Luke Jensen, who originally paired the two together. “They handled adversity really well. They haven’t really smoked teams, but they always come out the better team in the end because they find a way to win.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe two were not always the best of friends. But at the start of their sophomore year, they started hanging out more often. Safdar would come to Rodgers’ apartment more frequently as the year went on, as their bond grew and then strengthened when Jensen paired them together. “She’s very positive and I’m very positive, so I think we both have really good outlooks on life,” Rodgers said. “We are different in a lot of ways, but we have the same morals and stuff, so it was easy to get along with her.”The duo struggled together at first. Because they have different dominant hands, when the ball would come down the middle of the court the partners had trouble deciding who would use their forehand. They struggled determining who would call off the other person, especially on overheads. Safdar said the two practiced for hours each day just working on issues of communication.Eventually the duo figured out the issues. They won 10 matches together last year, not including the Big East tournament, and their only defeat this season came in a highly competitive 8-6 set. The duo figured out how to play to their strengths more, with Rodgers leaning on the big serve and consistent groundstrokes, and Safdar sticking to her aggressive style and strong net play. “We go to our strengths,” Safdar said. “The strengths are that for one, she’s really consistent so she’ll often set me up at the net, whether it’s with her big serve. That’s a huge thing. She’ll pretty much serve our opponent off the court and I’m right there to volley it out.”Having such a strong bond helps take some of the pressure off Rodgers and Safdar and creates a more comfortable atmosphere. This type of ease they feel helps when the two have to close out tight matches.“It’s great because it creates a relaxed environment,” Safdar said. “We can laugh about things, but we also know how to stay competitive.”While Safdar and Rodgers had some success to start this season, the team as a whole struggled and failed to win a match with the two playing together. The pairings will be different moving forward, but Rodgers’ and Safdars’ experience in doubles could help the Orange moving forward. “We haven’t been winning the doubles point,” George said. “We’re just changing it up a little bit and finding something that works and something we can hang our hat on.” Comments Published on March 4, 2014 at 12:32 am Contact Ryan: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+last_img