RU overcomes weather to topple SHU
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — Overcast weather is not something the Rutgers tennis team usually has to factor in when it takes the court.
But with the sun coming and going as it pleased — coupled with spurts of rain and wind yesterday — the Scarlet Knights secured a victory against in-state rival Seton Hall, 6-1.
Assistant coach Hilary Tyler, who coached the team for the day, did not mind the weather, which resulted in suspended play twice during the match.
“I was surprised on how they handled some of the delays because it’s not an easy thing to go focus right back on,” Tyler said. “It was a good showing of how much our [players] have as a team.”
Rutgers (10-8, 5-3) seized an early opportunity, capturing the doubles point in its first action in more than a week.
No. 1 doubles proved to be the closest match, as senior Jennifer Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini faced off against the Pirates’ (6-13, 2-5) sophomore tandem of Chloe Sher and Rocio Portela.
Sher and Portela entered the match with 11 straight wins in doubles action. Both teams returned shots, but Sher and Portela secured the win, 8-3, highlighted by a Portela overhand strike to end the match.
But senior Morgan Ivey and freshman Lindsay Balsamo won in No. 2 doubles, 8-2, while sophomore Stefania Balasa and freshman Noor Judeh captured a victory in No. 3 action, 8-1, against Seton Hall’s Maria Rodriguez and Anna Guryanova. Both victories secured the doubles point for the Knights.
With doubles play such an important factor in setting the tone for singles play, Holzberg was pleased with the way the team performed.
“It was really good,” Holzberg said on doubles play. “Down the line, we were aggressive and mixed it up a lot, so it was good.”
Petrini and Sher continued to battle in No. 1 singles action. Sher came out fast, but the sophomore fought back on a series of hard overhand shots that forced a tiebreaker. Petrini’s comeback fell short, as Sher secured the win, 10-6, in the tiebreaker.
Nos. 2, 3 and 4 singles play secured the win for Rutgers. Balasa and Ivey won in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, and, 6-3, 6-0, respectively, while Holzberg defeated Portela, 7-6, 6-2.
Rutgers’ freshmen split their single matches, with Balsamo defeating Madison Shoemaker, 6-7, 6-0, 10-3, and Judeh losing in No. 6 singles, 6-2, 6-1.
The focus now is this weekend, when Rutgers hosts back-to-back games against Big East competition. Pittsburgh arrives in Piscataway tomorrow before West Virginia on Sunday serves as the Knights’ last match of the regular season.
And with the Big East Tournament beginning next Thursday, sweeping this weekend only helps Rutgers as it tries to improve upon last year’s second-round exit in the tournament.
“They are big matches, being they are for seeding in the Big East Tournament,” Tyler said. “We need these wins, and our [players] will be hungry for it and really focused.”