Six-match winning streak earns RU No. 8 seed
After ending the Big East portion of its schedule on a six-match winning streak, the Rutgers tennis team earned a No. 8 seed in the upcoming Big East Tournament.
It matches the Scarlet Knights up with the No. 9 seed Cincinnati Bearcats in the first round, which takes place tomorrow in Tampa.
The Knights made it into the tournament by finishing among the top 12 in the Big East with a 7-3 conference record.
“We had three great wins last week to end the regular season, and we feel like we have a lot of momentum,” said head coach Ben Bucca in a press release. “There is nothing like winning — it is contagious and it makes everything fun. We feel great about how we have been playing down the stretch and look forward to the Big East Championships.”
The three wins Bucca is referring to came against Seton Hall, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
Senior Jennifer Holzberg led the team during that stretch, winning all six of her matches. Rutgers also earned the doubles point in each match.
The Bearcats, losers of each of their last three matches, do not carry any momentum into the tournament.
The Knights want to improve on last year’s second-round exit. They beat West Virginia in last year’s opening round before dropping a match against Syracuse in the next.
Improvement on that result this season is no easy task. The winner of tomorrow’s match advances to face No. 1 seed Notre Dame on Friday in the quarterfinals.
But Bucca is well aware of how tough the conference is, especially compared to where it used to be.
“The Big East in women’s tennis is clearly an emerging conference,” he said. “This is the strongest the conference has ever been, as we have four teams with a national ranking and a number of teams that compete effectively against these nationally ranked teams, including us. There has never been this much depth or such a high level of play in the Big East until now. We have to come ready to play and we are going in healthy, motivated and as a cohesive unit. That’s a recipe for success.”
While Rutgers has momentum on its side, it does not have familiarity working for it.
The Knights have not seen Cincinnati since Feb. 15, 2009, when they traveled to Ohio and lost, 4-3.
Only Holzberg and fellow senior Morgan Ivey have played the Bearcats.
The tournament lasts until Saturday and takes place at the Varsity Courts on the South Florida campus.