Rutgers ends season with 5-15 record, 0-11 conference record
The Rutgers tennis team ended its season with a two-game home stand against Purdue and Indiana this weekend, which was highlighted by senior Chloe Lee earning a win against the Hoosiers in her final match in a scarlet uniform.
The Scarlet Knights (5-15, 0-11) suffered a tough loss against the Boilermakers (13-9, 6-4) on Friday, but rebounded slightly with a gritty 5-2 loss against Indiana (17-10, 4-7) Sunday, with singles victories by Lee and sophomore Kat Muzik.
Lee defeated Hoosier Natalie Whalen 6-2, 6-4. She expressed thanks to everyone involved in Rutgers athletics for a great four years.
“There is a lot of work that goes into tennis matches that a lot of people don’t realize,” Lee said. “So I am super grateful for everyone within the entire athletic community as a whole, and I think being a college athlete is also a valuable experience so I am grateful to have that as well. I will always be a Knight, I love this place.”
Purdue and Indiana were each coming off home stands of their own last weekend, in which they split results against other Big Ten rivals. Both the Boilermakers and Hoosiers defeated Penn State 5-2, but lost to No. 35 Ohio State 2-5 and 1-6, respectively.
On Friday, Purdue, led by its red-hot No. 1 player Silvia Ambrosio, proved too much for the Knights as they were defeated 7-0 at the East Brunswick Racquet Club.
Although it was a bitter loss, a few players stood out in the meet. Senior Mingxiu Du and Muzik fought Ambrosio and Caitlin Calkins to a tiebreak in doubles, ultimately losing the set 7-6.
In singles, freshman Maya Jacobs was involved in a second-set showdown against Calkins after dropping the first set 6-3. In the end, Calkins held on to a 7-6 victory in the second set.
The loss set the team up with a final head-to-head against Indiana, in its last attempt to pick up a Big Ten victory before hanging up the racquets.
It was apparent that Rutgers was fired up as all of its singles matches were competitive thrillers.
With Lee picking up her victory, Muzik followed in a three-set duel against the Hoosiers’ Caitlin Bernard. Muzik won the first set 6-2 with Bernard taking the second set 6-2. After an intense match, Muzik ended up victorious with a victory in the third set again winning 6-2.
After the match, Muzik said that she was very happy with her performance.
“It’s great to go out strong with our last match, and it’s a great feeling to end on a good note,” Muzik said. “We do awesome supporting each other, but I think believing in ourselves, not just the whole team in general, is something we need to work on."
Like other players on the team, Muzik said that she would like to improve closing sets out and gaining more confidence going into her junior season.
Head coach Hilary Ritchie was pleased with how her team fought throughout the season, even in defeat.
“We showed a lot of resiliency, despite some of our losses,” Ritchie said. "They came back to practice every day willing to work, and that’s what I respected the most out of this team.”
Ritchie credited Muzik for her victory and Lee for taking care of business in straight sets against Whalen, something that Lee wanted to improve on as she finished the season.
Du was also involved in her final matchup at the No. 1 spot with Indiana’s Madison Appel. Du battled Appel to a tiebreak, which Appel took 7-6. In the end, Appel won the match 7-6, 6-0.
Many of Du’s matchups this year did not tell the whole story as she was going up against some of the nation’s best collegiate players. As she moves on from Rutgers, she credited the team for supporting her.
“What I appreciate the most is that all my teammates care for each other and support each other,” Du said. “The coaches and staff also supported us really well.”
Senior Lee Levy also finished her collegiate career today as she teamed up with Lee in a doubles defeat against the Hoosiers’ Xiwei Cai and Whalen.
Levy also thanked the team and staff for their support and encouragement.
“Whether it’s on the court or off the court, you have everyone supporting you academically as well,” Levy said. “It’s an amazing system, and I am grateful for every moment.”
Now that the season has come to an end, Ritchie expressed what she wants the team to work on going into next season.
“Going into next season we need to smell blood when we are up,” Ritchie said. “We need to capitalize and not let our opponents back in the door.”
For updates on the Rutgers tennis team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.