June 17, 2019 | 78° F

Rutgers freshmen get 1st test at Brown Invitational

Photo by The Daily Targum |

The Rutgers women’s tennis team has turned over a new chapter in its first fall competition at the Brown Invitational in Providence, R.I. 

From Sept. 21-23, the Scarlet Knights served up against UMass, Stony Brook and host Brown for three days of singles and doubles action.

Rutgers began the invite with a 3-4 record in singles play and 1-2 in doubles action against the Minutemen, while holding onto a mark of 4-3 and 1-2 in singles and doubles, respectively, against the Bears to finish the tournament strong.

“I think we actually did really well, especially for our first tournament, and as you know, we have three new freshmen, so it's basically a completely new team,” said sophomore Maya Jacobs. “We have a new line-up and everything's different. I think we did a really good job of adapting to it and staying focused. I think out of all the teams, we were very mentally strong and I think that's what wills us over in the end.”

With the addition of three freshmen to the roster, the young Knights put on a great weekend of competition for their Rutgers debut. Leading that pack was freshman Kristiana Zahare, who posted a perfect 3-0 record in singles play. 

The Riga, Latvia native won easily against opponents from UMass and Brown, while also putting up a gritty match with Seawolf Ester Chikvashvili in sets of 6-7 (8), 6-2 and 6-3. 

Zahare has competed around Europe against a slew of athletes from different countries. Her vast experience of international tournaments looks to have benefitted her in singles action, but she’ll have to focus on playing with another Knight by her side if she wants to improve her 1-2 record in doubles action.

Following Zahare with 2-1 marks in singles action were classmate Sydney Kaplan, junior Jaci Cochrane and Jacobs.

Even though Kaplan had a rocky start, losing both her singles and doubles matches on the first day of the invite, she was able to reset and come back around to win both her matches against Stony Brook, adding to a singles' win against the Bears (6-2, 6-1) on the final day.

“The first day, I lost two singles and doubles, and then the next day, I came out to play more confidently and won both my matches,” Kaplan said. “Overall, it was a really good weekend for me. As a team, we all get along and we all really support each other and cheer for each other and that really helps.”

On the doubles side, junior Kat Muzik and freshman Tess Fisher were the only pair that competed together the entire weekend, going 2-1 with wins against the Minutemen (6-0) and the Seawolves (6-3). 

After two doubles' losses to UMass, the pairings of Jacobs and Zahare, as well as Cochrane and Kaplan, swapped freshmen players for the final two days of the invite. Both doubles pairings posted a mark of 1-1 by the end of the competition.

Looking back at last year’s opening invite, Jacobs won Rutgers’ only singles and doubles match of the day against the Minutemen. This time around, the Knights were able to rebound better and maintain greater performances on the final day, but still have much to work on before their conference season in the spring.

Looking ahead, Rutgers will return to the court on Oct. 5-7 for another three-day invite at the U.S. Naval Academy.

“As a team, I think we just need to remind ourselves every single point that we deserve to be here and just be really confident in all of our strengths and be confident in all the work that we've put in for the past couple weeks, the whole entire summer and just going forward, all the training that we've been doing,” Jacobs said.

For updates on the Rutgers tennis team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Alexandra Fabugais-Inaba

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