Young talent remains focused
The Rutgers women's tennis team pummeled Georgetown 7-0 over the weekend to improve to 10-4 (4-2). The Scarlet Knights halted Georgetown's two-match winning streak and kept the Hoyas winless within the conference.
Head coach Ben Bucca was worried his team would take this win for granted.
"When you feel confident that you are going to win a match sometimes those can be the hardest ones," Bucca said.
Freshman Maryana Milchutskey did not have that issue.
"This is my first year, so I went in not knowing how they were. I was able to approach it like it was any other match," she said.
Milchutskey and her fellow freshmen have been a key to the Knights' success, Bucca said. "[The freshmen] have been just terrific in how they have been able to go out on the court and play with experience beyond what you'd expect."
Milchutskey said her juniors experience has readied her for collegiate tennis.
"I played a lot of junior tournaments and I've got a lot of experience from there," she said. "There was a lot of long days, traveling and tough tennis. That prepared me to play at this level."
Teammate Morgan Ivey said her lack of juniors tournaments allows her to continue to improve.
"This is the first time I've had this many matches in such a short period of time. I'm finally able to grow as a tennis player," Ivey said.
With their eyes on the prize, the Knights will travel north to take on St. John's today at 2 p.m. at the Alley Pond Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y. The Red Storm is the second of five Big East teams standing in between RU and top seeding in the conference tournament.
"The last four matches are going to be crucial for seeding," Bucca said. "They are extremely significant matches and we have to bring our best tennis."
That may not be the case against the struggling Red Storm. St. John's is 4-10 with three of their four wins coming at home. Senior Gabija Gasiunaite and junior Ira Aleksova leads the Red Storm. Aside from these two players, no other member has more than two years of collegiate tennis experience.
Milchutskey will not let this knock her focus.
"We can't go into a match thinking they're not that good of a team. That's how the better team usually loses," she said.
One may think this string of important conference matches will heighten the level of competition, but the team does not change their approach.
"When you're in the moment you treat it like any other match," Ivey said. "You want to win everything, no matter if it's a Big East match or anything else."