Knights end regular season with pair of victories
For the Rutgers women’s tennis team, Sunday marked the last time its senior class took the court at the Rutgers Tennis Complex.
But the emotional match resulted in a Scarlet Knights victory, defeating West Virginia, 6-1, in the Knights’ regular-season finale.
While the match was bittersweet for Jennifer Holzberg, the senior was satisfied her last home match was a win.
“It felt good,” Holzberg said. “This was a good weekend to go out on and I think the team is doing really well.”
Rutgers was strong in doubles play, competing only in Nos. 1 and 2 doubles matches because the Mountaineers did not field a No. 3 doubles team.
Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini defeated Mary Chupa and Ikttesh Chahal, 8-3. The win was their second straight, as they found success in Saturday’s 6-1 win against Pittsburgh.
Senior Morgan Ivey and freshman Lindsay Balsamo won in No. 2 doubles, 8-6, against West Virginia’s Veronica Cardenas and Emily Mathis, completing the sweep of the doubles point.
Head coach Ben Bucca is relieved to see the recent play in doubles entering the postseason.
“We played great doubles,” Bucca said. “It was Chapter 1 of a two-chapter book of great play in doubles and then singles.”
The play of both seniors in singles action, in which they both secured victories, completed the book. Ivey defeated Cardenas, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), to move her singles season record to 12-6.
Holzberg’s performance in her 6-0, 6-1 No. 2 singles victory impressed Bucca, who said it was the best match of her career.
“[Senior Jennifer] Holzberg had an unbelievable match,” Bucca said. “She played flawless tennis.”
Stefania Balasa was the only Knight to drop a match. The sophomore won the second set in her No. 4 singles match, but could not complete the comeback, losing, 9-7, in the third set.
Petrini and Balsamo both earned victories in their matches while a forfeit in No. 6 singles by West Virginia (4-16, 1-6) capped Rutgers’ (12-8, 7-3) fourth straight victory.
The win also completed what Bucca coined the “Big East sweep.” After back-to-back losses to Yale and Denver in March, Bucca wanted to win the last four matches of the regular season, all against Big East competition.
The Knights defeated Connecticut and Seton Hall earlier in April. The West Virginia victory, coupled with Rutgers’ win against Pittsburgh, can provide momentum for Thursday as the team enters the Big East Tournament.
Rutgers earned a No. 6 seed in the tournament last season, losing in the second round to DePaul, 4-2.
For now, Bucca believes it is important for the team to take in its recent success.
“Winning is fun and is contagious,” Bucca said. “When you put in all this effort in practice and you make all of these efforts to come out and fight so hard in the match, it’s great that you are rewarded with the win.”