Rutgers goes on road for Buffalo Invite to end fall season
After a strong showing last time out, the Rutgers tennis team is serving up in Buffalo, N.Y. this weekend at the Buffalo Invite from Oct. 26-28.
The Scarlet Knights have been on a tremendous roll since the beginning of their fall season, and they’re hoping to finish their last competition well before getting back to offseason training in the winter.
In last weekend's ITA Northeast Regional Championships, sophomore Maya Jacobs made it to the round of 16 in singles play, while the Rutgers duo of junior Kat Muzik and freshman Tess Fisher reached the semifinals in doubles action.
“Overall, I think everyone was competing really hard, and we saw a lot of the improvements that we've been working on in practice show through really good competition against Boston University, BC, Syracuse, some of the top notch schools, so that was really exciting,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs was 1 of 2 unseeded players that competed in the round of 16. The Muzik-Fisher pair was the only unseeded duo to make it into the doubles’ semifinals bracket.
In comparison to last year’s regional performance, the Knights only qualified to the round of 64 before falling in the next round.
Rutgers’ influx of improvement over the past year is nothing to be surprised about, as the team has tirelessly worked on honing its craft on the court.
Coming off of a great performance at regionals and continuing the work that they’ve been putting into practice, the Knights are looking to carry over their aggressive and gritty playing style to win big at the Buffalo Invite.
“For this next weekend, I think we're just going to keep trying to do those same exact things,” Jacobs said on continuing Rutgers’ momentum. “We're going to be going up against some really good schools like UConn, St. John’s and Buffalo, so we just have to keep applying the pressure and working on it at practice.”
At last year’s Buffalo Invite, the Knights won against Binghamton (9-1) before falling to the Bulls (9-1) and the Red Storm (8-1). Similar to this year, head coach Hilary Ritchie noted back in 2017 that Rutgers was facing some tough competition and great teams in the nation.
But, the Knights didn’t notch as many singles wins as they would’ve hoped and faltered during high-pressure situations.
The only wins against Buffalo and St. John's came from junior Jaci Cochrane’s Bulls matchup (4-6, 6-1, 6-2) in addition to alumnus Lee Levy and sophomore Isabelle Da Silva’s doubles performance against the Red Storm (6-3).
“For this next weekend going into Buffalo, I think that we have some tough competition,” Ritchie said. “All three teams are very good that we're playing, and it is a different atmosphere in terms of how you don't compete for individual results."
Ritchie also mentioned the possibility of eight players competing in singles and doubles matches.
Even though the fall season is much shorter than its three-month conference season in the spring, Rutgers has quickly established its confidence and elevated its team dynamic to perform in a highly consistent manner.
Many of the Knights have logged wins of their own and in pairs with every competition being highlighted by a different member of the team. Additionally, the three freshmen have played a crucial role in bettering the team’s atmosphere.
At regionals, freshmen Kristiana Zahare, Sydney Kaplan and Fisher were entered in the main singles draw with an extra day's rest, while their other teammates competed in the singles qualifiers the day before.
In the spring, Rutgers revs up its engine to finally get the opportunity to compete alongside its Big Ten competitors and hungry to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament.
“In the spring, obviously we're in the Big Ten, so we're still going to be going against really good schools, even better,” Jacobs said. “If we can just keep the same momentum, and we see that we can do it, we just need to keep doing it. If we can do that, we're going to be fine for the next season.”
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