July 16, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers returns from Milwaukee with pair of losses

Photo by Enrico Cabredo |

Sophomore Stefania Balasa provided the only point for Rutgers on Saturday against DePaul with a victory in No. 4 singles play.

The Rutgers tennis team flew to Milwaukee this weekend with an opportunity to enter the national rankings.

Instead, it left Wisconsin with two league losses, dropping the Scarlet Knights’ record to 5-4 and 1-4 in Big East play. The Knights lost Friday’s match against host Marquette, 5-2, and Saturday’s contest to No. 38 DePaul, 6-1, at Marquette’s Helfaer Tennis Stadium.

“The atmosphere there was really different,” said sophomore Stefania Balasa. “They had fans and everything, so it was different being away because we had so many matches at home so far.”

The Blue Demons (10-3, 1-0) started right away in securing their first Big East victory of the season, taking the doubles point behind their No. 2 and 3 doubles teams. DePaul’s Kelsey Lawson and Patricia Fargas defeated the duo of Balasa and Noor Judeh, 8-1, while senior Morgan Ivey and freshman Lindsay Balsamo lost, 8-5, in the No. 3 doubles position.

“My partner and I definitely need to get more comfortable with our matches,” Balasa said. “We’ve been practicing well and we just have to get that to translate into our matches.”

Rutgers’ only doubles victory came from its top pairing of senior Jennifer Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini, who took down Jasmin Kling and Carolin Neumann, 8-6.

Kling would extract revenge in singles play with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 three-set victory against Holzberg.

The No. 1 singles match was one of three matches that went to a third set. Fargas defeated Petrini in No. 2 singles action 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, while Balasa’s victory against Lawson in No. 4 singles proved to be the only point scored for Rutgers in the match.

DePaul’s Gia McKnight registered her 85th career win with her 6-2, 6-3 win against Ivey and both Rutgers freshmen lost 6-3, 6-3 in Nos. 5 and 6 singles play, respectively.

Rutgers’ loss to the Blue Demons was its third to a ranked opponent. The Knights fell to No. 55 Princeton, 7-0, on Feb. 12. Their Feb. 19 match against No. 73 Syracuse was closer, but Rutgers still came up short in a 4-3 defeat to the Orange.

While Rutgers’ loss to DePaul was not what it was looking for, history indicated it would be a tough matchup. The Knights have not beaten the Blue Demons since the school joined the Big East Conference in 2005.

Marquette also joined the league that season, then handed the Knights their other weekend loss.

Marquette (8-2, 3-0) jumped ahead in doubles action with wins in the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles slots. Holzberg and Petrini were again the only doubles team to contribute a win with their 9-8 victory against the Golden Eagles tandem of Gillian Hush and Olga Fischer.

Ivey and Balsamo both registered singles victories, but Marquette otherwise dominated.

In their four singles wins, the Golden Eagles were only taken to a third set once. Fischer defeated Holzberg 6-2, 7-6, in No.1 singles, while Petrini fell to Hush 6-3, 7-5. Marquette’s Rocio Diaz won in No. 4 singles against Balasa 6-3, 6-1 and Judeh dropped 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (10-8), decision against Ana Pimienta, the only singles match to go past two sets.

With both losses behind them, the Knights will have to regroup in practice over the week. They will have an opportunity to improve their record when they travel to Charleston, S.C., for a three-game swing. Rutgers will take on the College of Charleston, Boston University and Charleston Southern before returning home March 22 for its first Big East home match.

“We’re playing three teams that are very good,” Balasa said. “We have to really focus and see what we can act on.”

By Bradly Derechailo

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