No. 5 Knights ready for Big East Tourney
Today marks the opening round of the Big East Women's Tennis Championship in Tampa, Fla. Rutgers' 14-4 record is good enough to earn the fifth overall seed, the highest spot to compete in the first round of action.
The Scarlet Knights' initial opponent will be Connecticut, playing out of the bottom slot in the bracket. The Knights are eight days removed from a 7-0 smashing of the Huskies on the final day of the regular season.
Head coach Ben Bucca has nothing but excitement for what his team is about to undertake.
"There is always a special atmosphere within Big East matches," Bucca said. "Knowing we're going to face them again is a positive thing for us and I know we're ready for it."
Playing at first singles and doubles, sophomore Amy Zhang likes the position the team put itself in.
"We are all really excited about what we did," she said. "The team is very confident but we realize that anything can happen. We have to carry our momentum into this tournament."
The Knights closed out the season with a six-match winning streak as well as a run of seven consecutive victories in conference play.
If RU defeats Connecticut, the Marquette Golden Eagles will be fresh off of its first round bye and eager to try to repeat the outcome of their last encounter. The Golden Eagles were the last conference opponent to hand the Knights a loss. Back in late February, the Knights dropped the match 4-3 at the RU Tennis Bubble.
Senior Polina Zaretser said this is not the same RU team who lost that match, however.
"We are playing like a completely different team right now," Zaretser said. "We have this winning streak and our confidence is high. Our goal is to win our first match and then try to upset some of those higher ranked teams."
Freshman Jennifer Holzberg said the she thinks the Knights are poised to extend their season.
"We've had a lot more spirit and come together as a team," she said. "Of course we want to end the season in the strongest way possible."
Freshman Morgan Ivey, who plays alongside Holzberg as a part of a powerful doubles tandem, is ready to contribute to that effort.
"[What we've done so far] means a lot to us and for the tournament, but now we have to go out there and perform like we know we can," she said.