June 23, 2018 | ° F

Perfect home record on line against 'Nova

The Rutgers tennis team has a prime opportunity to extend its win streak to three when it hosts Big East rival Villanova this afternoon at the RU Tennis Complex. The Scarlet Knights (5-3, 1-1) are unbeaten in three home matches this spring and are playing with confidence after two impressive wins. Head coach Ben Bucca is pleased with his team's performance in Piscataway this season and believes the Knights are at their best when playing at home. "We're clearly a better team on our home court. We like the environment here and play well here," Bucca said. "A number of fans come out and I know the girls get inspired by that." RU played inconsistent tennis during the early portion of the season, but the group appears to have found its groove over the past couple weeks. The Knights swept conference opponent Georgetown 7-0 on Feb. 25 before outlasting Army 5-2 on Sunday. The contest against Army was grueling. It lasted more than five hours and many of RU's players endured lengthy, hard-fought matches. Sophomore Jen Holzberg does not believe there will be a hangover effect from Sunday's difficult match. "The match [against Army] was definitely straining but I think we are in good condition as a team," Holzberg said. "We had Monday off and got some rest so I think we'll be physically ready to play hard against Villanova."

The Wildcats come into town limping. They are 0-6 on the season and were outscored by a total of 47-1 in their matches. 'Nova is fresh off a trip to San Diego, Calif., where the team dropped three matches at the Point Loma Nazarene Tournament. Holzberg, the Knights' No. 2 singles player, does not expect a let down when RU takes on the struggling conference foe. "Respect is the main thing for conference matches and that's what we are looking for," Holzberg said. "We want to prove that we are one of the better teams in the Big East. We should win this match so it's important that we go out and do it." A win over Villanova would improve RU to 2-1 in Big East play, the lone loss coming in the spring's opening match at Syracuse. Assistant coach Alex Arlak knows the Knights should not take today's match for granted. "This one is important for us. One of the main team goals for this season is to earn a high seed in the Big East tournament," Arlak said. "Every conference win helps us work toward that goal." Today's match is RU's final one before Spring Break, when the Knights head to Miami for three matches. Arlak is fully aware of how important it is for the Knights to head south on high note. "We want to go into Spring Break with a win, especially against a conference opponent," she said. "We want to be confident heading into our matches over break."

Tyler Donohue

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