Rutgers falls in final 2 matches of regular season
It’s the end of the road for the Rutgers tennis team. Dropping both of their matches against Indiana and Purdue with a 5-2 score, the Scarlet Knights (9-12, 1-10) are out of the Big Ten Tournament. This weekend marks the completion of Rutgers' 2018-2019 season, finishing the spring with one conference win against Nebraska.
Throwing down the hammer in doubles action were freshmen duo Tess Fisher and Sydney Kaplan with a 6-0 sweep of the Hoosiers (15-10, 5-5) at the No. 3 spot, adding to their fourth Big Ten win. Previously, they lost their three-match winning streak to Michigan State, and were hungry for a comeback victory.
The Knights weren’t able to defeat Indiana at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, losing in similar scores of 6-3. Sophomore Maya Jacobs and junior Kat Muzik were up against the Hoosiers' Madison Appel and Jelly Bozovic, who rank No. 60 in the nation.
Moving onto singles, Rutgers held several tough matches with Jacobs, Muzik and Cochrane making their way into third sets, but not without Kaplan returning to her peak in a 6-3, 6-4 singles win to Indiana's Jelly Bozovic.
Playing yet another nationally ranked singles player, Jacobs made No. 122 Appel work. Jacobs fell 6-3 in the first set, but served up a defining 6-2 second set that led into a final loss of 6-4 in the third. This marked her seventh consecutive Big Ten loss in the toughest schedule out of any of the Knights this season.
Similar to Jacobs’s first two sets, Muzik lost 6-2 in the first and reciprocated the attack with a 6-2 second set win of her own. In the final set, Muzik was able to put together a strong 6-3 close to notch a win against the Hoosiers' Caitlin Bernard at the No. 3 position.
Sophomore Jaci Cochrane played with the mentality of “it’s never over until it’s over” in her singles match at the No. 6 spot. Cochrane was edged out in the first set 7-6 (2-0), but pulled through the second set in another tight 7-6 (0-9). Heading into the final set, Cochrane went back and forth with Indiana until the last couple of points slipped from her finger tips in a score of 10-7.
After the match, Rutgers took the drive out to West Lafayette, Indiana for its second match of the weekend against the Boilermakers (10-12, 5-6).
Hoping to wipe their minds off of the recent loss to Indiana, the Knights struggled in doubles.
With Rutgers’ most doubles wins, Kaplan and Fisher were slotted into the No. 2 position this time around, but couldn’t deliver a win. They lost 6-4 to Purdue’s Caitlin Calkins and Seira Shimizu.
The Knights lost the rest of the doubles matches with Muzik and Jacobs falling 6-3 at No. 1 as well as freshman Kristiana Zahare and Cochrane coming in a close 6-5 loss at No. 3.
Kaplan’s fifth and final Big Ten singles victory of the season was met against the Boilermakers' Amina Mukhametshina at the No. 4 spot in a final tally of 6-1, 6-4. Also with a point for Rutgers was Muzik in a sets of 6-7 (5-7), 6-0.
Toward the top of the column, Fisher lost the first set 6-2, rallied in the second for a 6-4 wing, but ultimately fell to Purdue's Ena Babic in a final set of 6-3.
The Knights had to win their last two matches in Indiana to even be considered for a slot in the Big Ten Tournament.
Even though the season is over, Rutgers has had one of its best seasons since joining the Big Ten, and it only gives the Knights more of an opportunity to climb the ranks of one of the toughest conferences in the nation.
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