RU handles Johnnies in home match
The Rutgers tennis team got back on track yesterday afternoon with a 5-2 victory over Big East adversary St. John's. The win allows Rutgers to put last weekend's disappointing matches in the rear-view mirror as it closes out the regular season. Playing in front of a solid crowd, the Scarlet Knights reversed their Big East fortunes and strengthened their case for a quality seed in the conference's postseason tournament. The team was well aware of the importance of yesterday's contest, said sophomore Morgan Ivey. "St. John's has given us trouble in the past," Ivey said. "It was really crucial for us to win in the Big East and go into the tournament with a strong record." Saturday's home match against West Virginia is the Knight's regular season finale. The team's tussle with the Johnnies was crucial for its tourney resume. Hoping to lock up a top six seed in the field of 12, Rutgers needed to play sharp throughout the match. St. John's was no lightweight and did not go away quietly into the night. Many of the Knights' singles players were saddled with tough, lengthy matches. Add the fact that it was unseasonably warm, and the makings of a physically draining afternoon are born. Team ace junior Amy Zhang fell behind early before regaining her momentum and earning another victory. Sophomore Leonora Slatnick fell victim to a heart-wrenching loss that lasted well after her teammates finished playing. Slatnick's loss means the Texan's ten match unbeaten streak is history. However, she believes the defeat will not have lasting effects for her or the team. "I'm just going to keep taking it one match at a time," Slatnick said. "You've got to move on whether you win or lose. Now that we're at the end of the season, I think we're ready for the Big East tournament. That's what we play for. We've been playing pretty well and there's not much more we can do to prepare. " Sophomore Maryana Milchutskey, the Knights' No. 4 singles player, feels that success in the Big East is vital. "We started off pretty bad losing 7-0 to Syracuse," she said. "But after that we realized that every Big East match is really important and we've been playing really well. Hopefully we can continue to do that." Milchutskey earned a win against the Red Storm and is one of the Knights' most consistent players this season. Her play could be an X-factor for Rutgers in the tournament if she continues to flourish in the fourth spot. "I bring a focus to every match and try to play hard," Milchutskey said. "I guess I've been lucky too and winning." Rutgers is approaching the finish line of the 2010 season that began nearly three months ago. The Knights played in 19 matches over that time. They fought hard to win 12 of those and Ivey believes the team has more fight in it despite the growing fatigue that comes with a long season. "I think the season has taken a toll on us physically and mentally, but I think it makes us stronger to stick together through the end."