RU suffers sweep at Princeton
While shutouts have been commonplace for the Rutgers tennis team, the Scarlet Knights ended up on the wrong side of one Sunday against Princeton.
The Tigers posted a 7-0 score that handed the Knights their first loss of the spring season.
They also served as Rutgers’ first ranked opponent this year. Princeton entered Sunday’s match ranked 51st after it defeated No. 41 Maryland the day before.
Head coach Ben Bucca initially believes the ranked foe affected the team.
“We started off very slow and were very nervous,” Bucca said. “As a result of our nerves, we played very tentative tennis, which we didn’t do in our last three matches.”
Rutgers’ lone match victory came in doubles competition. Sophomore Stefania Balasa paired with freshman Noor Judeh to defeat Joan Cannon and Katherine Flanigan in the second doubles position, 8-6.
The win was not enough to capture a doubles-play victory for the Knights. Senior Jen Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini dropped their match, 8-1, while senior Morgan Ivey and freshman Lindsay Balsamo lost, 8-4.
Doubles play has been the strong part of the team’s play this season, but it did not help the Knights gain their fourth victory of the season at Jadwin Gymnasium.
“We were very tentative in doubles from the start,” Holzberg said. “Everyone competed very hard, but we just didn’t get the right results.”
Holzberg led off for Rutgers in singles play but could not get the team going. The co-captain dropped straight sets to Princeton’s Hilary Bartlett, 6-4, 6-3. Petrini followed in second singles with a 6-2, 7-5 loss.
Balasa took Katie Goepel to the last game in fourth singles but could not come away with a win. The sophomore fell, 6-4, 7-6.
Ivey, Judeh and Balsamo also suffered losses in their singles matches.
“The seniors really wanted to beat them this year,” Bucca said. “That made our nerves interfere with our play, and that’s something we need to work on.”
The results from the match did not mirror the Knights’ results Friday against Quinnipiac. Rutgers swept the Bobcats, 7-0, and did not drop a set in singles play.
Bucca knows his team still has to work before its next match Friday against Army.
“We need to really focus on playing very aggressive and explosive tennis right from the beginning,” Bucca said. “We have to play our best tennis right from the beginning, and we are going to make a conscious effort at that this week before Army.”
Army is currently in the midst of a six-game winning streak and faces Rutgers with a 6-1 overall record.