Scarlet Knights complete clean sweep of Wildcats
The Rutgers women's tennis team was handed a going away gift when it defeated Villanova 7-0 at the RU Tennis Bubble in the last match before spring break.
Even thought the Scarlet Knights won in the most decisive way possible, assistant head coach Alexandra Arlak said the team could have played better.
"I don't like it, but luckily we were able to make more errors than usual against competition like Villanova," she said. "I think the girls learned that they have to keep down the unforced errors because from here on out it's only going to get tougher."
That leeway was shown as RU swept the doubles point despite sloppy play from freshmen Jennifer Holzberg and Morgan Ivey.
"I think we prepared really well and we weren't expecting a victory, but it was just one of those days, you know," Ivey said. "I definitely could have played stronger. I fought really hard but I still could have played better than I did."
Things were not all bad as freshman Leonora Slatnick made her Big East debut in impressive fashion, finishing off her opponent in straight sets.
"I played well towards the end. I was really nervous at first," she said. "I started off kind of slow but once I got into a rhythm I started feeling better."
The rookie almost got caught overlooking her opponent.
"When you play someone you know you can beat, it's kind of hard maintaining a high level of intensity, so I started playing her game instead of mine," Slatnick said.
Ivey knows what it is like to be in her shoes.
"I'm really impressed. She hasn't had as much match-play practice, so she's probably felt a little nervous and very anxious," Ivey said. "She probably felt like [the other freshman] did at the beginning of the season."
This match was enough to shake Slatnick of the jitters.
"I think now that I got over everything in this match so I'm good," she said. "I'm ready to play more."
She might get the opportunity when the Knights travel to Charleston, S.C. over spring break to take on three strong out-of-conference teams. In the course of four days, RU will take on Towson, the College of Charleston and Charleston Southern.
"Those three teams will be tough. They will probably be around Syracuse's level," Arlak said. "We want to at least come out with a winning record to carry that over into our Big East matches."
The team will have to quickly adjust to playing in the confines of the RU Tennis Bubble to the elements of an outdoor court and the South Carolina heat.
"It's tough adjusting to outdoor courts," Arlak said. "There will be a lot of long points and you really have to have your fitness level up."
All work and no play will not be the case for Ivey, a Charleston native.
"I'm really excited to go back [to Charleston]," she said. "I know some of the girls we'll be playing and it's going to be a lot of fun."