Zaretser to be honored as goals now within reach
When the Rutgers women's tennis team hosts Connecticut today at the RU Tennis Complex, it will be a special day for a number of reasons.
The 13-4 record has the Scarlet Knights one win away from their season's goal of 14-4. This Big East showdown is RU's last chance to earn a top seed in the conference tournament, and the last match of the season means the lone senior Polina Zaretser will be honored on her birthday.
"I'm really excited for this match, although it's not hitting me that it will be my last match yet," Zaretser said. "It's cool that it's on my birthday, but we have to make sure we finish the season on a good note."
The 5-9 Huskies recently lost to West Virginia and got blanked by Pitt, both teams that Rutgers just took care off.
"We know they just lost to teams we beat, but we also know that anything can happen," sophomore Amy Zhang said. "We feel very confident coming off of these two wins, but we have to make sure it carries over to Connecticut."
The loss of the graduating Zaretser has a special effect on Zhang. It will mean the separation of a first double team that has a 9-0 record on the season.
"Polina is a very experienced. She's a great doubles player and I feel like we're a great doubles team together," Zhang said. "With her there I feel very confident that we can always get the win."
It is not just Zaretser's partner that will feel the loss. Freshman Morgan Ivey said that her progression as a tennis player came from her captain.
"I've really learned how to come into each match with the right amount of confidence and preparation," Ivey said. "[Zaretser] knows how to handle the pressure the best because she has the most experience. It's good to watch her and see how she handles herself. Every opponent brings something different to the court, but she brings the same intensity no matter who she is playing."
The New York native's favorite tennis memory coincides with Ivey's praise.
"My best match came last year against Princeton," Zaretser said. "It was a home match and it was a battle. It was a long, two-setter and I felt really good getting the win. You get a good feeling when you beat an Ivy League team."
As the senior transitions from college life to the work world she has learned the most from a group of people with minimal experience.
"All of the players have a different impact on you, but this year was my favorite freshmen class," Zaretser said. "I can't explain it but the four freshmen have a bond about them that you just can't explain. It effected the whole team and it made this is my favorite year."
With UConn being the only thing standing in between Rutgers and the Big East Tournament, they look to give their leader the best possible send off.
"You want to win every match you play, no matter what the situation is," Ivey said. "But we really want to win this match for Polina."