Rutgers falls over weekend to Nebraska, Iowa
The Rutgers tennis team had a solid home stand last weekend at the East Brunswick Racquet Club against conference opponents Nebraska and Iowa, highlighted by strong individual and team performances by freshmen Maya Jacobs and Isabelle Da Silva and sophomore Jaci Cochrane.
The end results did not tell the whole story as the Scarlet Knights (5-11, 0-7) were ultimately defeated 5-2 each by the Cornhuskers (15-6, 4-4) and the Hawkeyes (10-11, 2-6).
Da Silva secured her first Big Ten singles victory against Nebraska’s Hayley Haakenstad in a three-set showdown. Haakenstad took the first set 6-4 before Da Silva came roaring back in the second set 6-3. In the final set, Da Silva came out victorious, winning 10-6.
She credited her resolve when it came to her performance.
“I think I liked my fight the best,” Da Silva said. “I didn’t win the first set but I didn’t let it get me down. I just kept going and believing in myself.”
Da Silva followed Friday’s performance with a victory against Iowa’s Danielle Burich Sunday after taking down her opponent in straight sets.
She mentioned that she wants to focus on her serve against future opponents, which she expects to work on in practice.
At the No. 5 spot, Jacobs recorded her second consecutive singles victory at home against the Cornhuskers’ Katerina Matysova, which was also a three-set thriller.
“I think this match was really tough, because it was like a battle within my head,” Jacobs said. “We continuously talk about that it comes down to what we do in practice and that toughness will show up in the match.”
Jacobs dropped the first set 2-6, only to grind through a 7-6 victory in the second set, winning on a 4-0 tiebreak. She won the battle in a 10-7 victory in the third set.
Jacobs referred to Da Silva’s win as proof that the team is starting to build character through what they do in practice.
“Every single match we are going to come out here, expecting to get another (victory),” Jacobs said.
Jacobs also had a strong performance Sunday against Iowa, highlighted by a 6-2 doubles victory with her partner in Cochrane against Iowa’s Zoe Douglas and Adorabol Huckleby.
Cochrane went on to have a strong day against the Hawkeyes, as she also defeated her singles opponent Huckleby in straight sets.
She based her strong performance on her will to compete against every opponent she faces.
“My approach going into this game is the same as every other match,” Cochrane said. “It’s just to come out and just compete and play the ball. I was able to come out on top today.”
Rutgers’ No. 2 senior Chloe Lee put up a fight all weekend, which started with a hard-fought defeat against Nebraska’s Claire Reifeis, 6-4 and 6-0, though the score did not tell the entire story of the game. Both women had great serves and returns until Reifeis ran away with the match in the second set.
Lee then had a stronger performance against Iowa’s Douglas as they battled each other in three sets.
Lee took the first set 4-6 but dropped the second set 6-3. In a gritty third set, Douglas ultimately came out on top 6-3.
Lee said that she needs to work on her performance in the second set going into next week.
“It has happened a couple of times where I get a big first set and then I take a little bit of a breath for a little too long,” Lee said. “I think for me going into the next few matches, I want to capitalize on the first and second games of the second set.”
Head coach Hilary Ritchie mentioned that the team must be more aggressive in doubles-play and improve on its second sets.
But overall, the team's energy over the weekend left Ritchie pleased.
“The effort is definitely there and we are starting to see that (we) have an effect,” Ritchie said. “The 7-0 losses may seem like we got blown out but the sets and the matches can actually be very close. Now you get to see some breakthroughs with our freshman and it gives us a lot of confidence.”
The Knights will travel to Michigan to face the Spartans and the Wolverines next week.
Ritchie expects her team to fight hard going into next week’s Big Ten games.
“We’ve got to really fight hard especially on our second sets, and if we do that I think we have a really good chance going in to our final games,” she said.
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