Dropping a midweek Big Ten match and picking up a non-conference win, the Rutgers tennis team fell 6-1 to Nebraska at home on Wednesday before capturing a 5-2 road win against Delaware on Sunday.
The Scarlet Knights (8-3, 0-2) are still a couple of weeks away from hitting their conference season, but it is rapidly approaching and Rutgers needs to be ready to hit its stride when the time comes.
Playing the Cornhuskers (9-3, 1-0) last week, the Knights’ first midweek match ended with sophomore Kristiana Zahare as the lone Rutgers player to claim a win against the team's Big Ten rival.
At the bottom of the lineup, Zahare played a hard-fought battle until the end, even when she knew that the rest of the Knights hadn’t won their individual singles matches. Zahare lost 7-6 (7-4) in a close first set, but returned the favor in a tight 7-6 (2-7) second-set win. The third and final set saw Zahare and Nebraska’s Hayley Haakenstad go back and forth, but Zahare was able to surge past her opponent with a 10-8 victory to close out the match.
The only other player to go into a third set was sophomore Tess Fisher at No. 2. Fisher dropped the first set 6-2, but pulled through in the second set, 7-6 (7-4), to push the match into a third set. Fisher was no match for the Cornhuskers’ Kristina Novak, though, and fell 10-2 in the match’s final moments.
In doubles play, junior Maya Jacobs and Zahare teamed up at the No. 1 spot, only to get taken down 6-4 by Nebraska’s Haakenstad and Novak. Senior Jaci Cochrane and sophomore Sydney Jones also lost their match, 6-3, at the No. 3 position.
"KatFish" duo senior Kat Muzik and Fisher were going point-for-point in their doubles match, but were left unfinished when both of the other matches were completed.
With a quick turnaround, Rutgers traveled to Wilmington, Delaware, over the weekend to secure its third road win of the season.
This time around, KatFish dominated their match against the Blue Hens' (5-3, 1-1) Caragh Courtney and Jojo Bach with a 6-0 win at No. 2. Sophomore Sydney Kaplan and Cochrane also claimed a 6-4 victory at the No. 3 spot to clinch the doubles point for the Knights.
Moving onto singles, Cochrane got right to work on Delaware’s Viva Laas for a 6-2, 6-1 win at the No. 5 position. Fisher followed right behind, winning her match 6-2, 6-4 at No. 2.
With a tight second set, Jacobs edged out the Blue Hens’ Eliza Askarova for a 6-4, 7-6 (7-0) victory at the top of the lineup.
At the bottom of the lineup, Zahare claimed the win in another three-set battle in Rutgers' final singles match. Zahare had a tough 6-3 loss in the first set, but came back around to capture the second (6-2) and third set (6-4).
"This is a solid win for us today,” said head coach Hilary Ritchie. “Delaware competed well and we had to play aggressively to win at each spot. This was a good match for us to work on things before heading to Minnesota."
Next up, the Knights will head west to compete against Minnesota tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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