September 26, 2018 | ° F

Knights dominate in home opener

Photo by Isiah Stewart |

Junior Amy Zhang, above, led the Scarlet Knights to a 7-0 sweep, winning first singles without surrendering a point. She and Jen Holzberg combined to win first team doubles 8-5.

Mother Nature got in the way of the Rutgers tennis team's bid for a second consecutive home victory Sunday as the biggest snowstorm of the decade forced the cancellation of the Scarlet Knights' Big East matchup with Georgetown.

While the team has to wait until Wednesday's trip to Lehigh to earn win No. 2, the Knights picked up their first ‘W' Thursday against visiting Farleigh Dickinson. RU blew away the Black Knights 7-0 in the friendly confines of the Rutgers Tennis Bubble.

On the heels of a disheartening season-opening shut out loss at Syracuse, RU looked for positives against FDU. They got off on the right track by taking two of three doubles matches to earn the contest's first point.

"It was great for the team to start good," said Amy Zhang. "Since a lot of my teammates were watching my match it was important for me to play well. A good beginning to a match can provide motivation for the rest of the team."

Moving onto singles, it was up to Zhang to get the Knights rolling. And she delivered against FDU‘s top singles player. Zhang, a junior, double bageled Elmine Botes 6-0. 6-0 to set the tone.    

If the Knights needed any additional motivation, they received it from sophomore Jen Holzberg's gutsy performance. Following a draining first set tiebreak loss, she willed her way to victory by outlasting Julija Korshunova in the final two sets.

Holzberg took the match 6-7 (9), 6-3, 6-2 before giving her body a rest and grabbing a seat.

"It was pretty exhausting. By the third set my legs were definitely getting tired but I was able to stick with it," she said. "After losing a tough opening set and coming back to win, it gives me a lot confidence going forward."

Beyond Holzberg, not one of the team's singles players required more than two sets to dismantle their opponent.

Senior captain Katherine Arlak used her improving drop shot to keep FDU's Julia Prantl on her toes. The physically outmatched Prantl dropped her racquet in frustration a handful of times on her way to defeat.

Arlak won 6-2, 6-3 to give the Knights their decisive fourth point in the match. However, that did not prevent the squad's other three singles players from joining in on the fun and adding to the onslaught.

Sophomore Maryana Milchutskey defeated Egzona Morina 6-3. 6-0 and freshman Michelle Greene earned her first collegiate win by taking down Ksenia Chernyshova 6-3, 6-2. Sophomore Leonora Slatnick finished off FDU by trouncing Jessica DeCarlos 6-0, 6-2.

After putting the final touches on the Knight's first victory of the spring, Slatnick reflected on what it meant for the team to put one in the win column.

"Losing 7-0 was tough," she said. "To be able to come back and win by the same score makes us feel much better."

Tyler Donohue

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