Knights split weekend in Cincinnati

The Rutgers women's tennis team opened their Big East schedule with a 4-3 loss to Cincinnati but turned things around one day later in a 4-3 win over Xavier during a weekend double-header.

The team is 3-2 (0-1 in the Big East) after splitting the two matches played in Cincinnati.

Rutgers took on Xavier early Sunday morning, just hours after a grueling match with Cincinnati the previous night.

At first singles, sophomore Amy Zhang helped lead her team to victory by defeating the Musketeers' senior Kara Courtney as well as teaming up with senior Polina Zaretser to help nab the doubles point.

Freshman Maryana Milchutskey displayed her resilience once more by battling back after a first set loss to capture a victory for her team.

The shortened spell between matches did not affect Milchutskey as much as she expected.

"I guess it was my time in juniors that prepared me," she said. "There were plenty of times when I finished a match late, grabbed dinner, went to sleep and woke up the next morning to do it all over again."

The Bearcats taught RU that experience is the best teacher, as many of the players learned a lesson that head coach Ben Bucca has stressed all along.

"When you're evenly matched, doubles becomes important," Bucca said. "It was disappointing to lose the point [against Cincinnati] because we take pride and work very hard in that area."

Freshman Jennifer Holzberg learned Saturday first hand how important the point becomes, as her team was just one point away from victory.

"I didn't realize how important [the doubles point] was until it was 3-3 and so much was riding on one game," Holzberg said. "[Winning the point] gets your energy up and takes the pressure off of your back for the rest of your match."

Milchutskey shared in her fellow freshman's epiphany.

"[Coach Bucca] always stressed the doubles point, but this weekend I learned how important it really is," she said. "If we had gotten the point against Cincinnati we could have walked away from this weekend with two victories."

Zaretser was successful in singles and doubles play as she was in the lineup for the first time since the season opener.

"I thought I was going to be very nervous, but I wasn't," the senior said. "I was very motivated and I stuck to what I knew."

The Scarlet Knights now look to defend home court as they kick off a five-match home stand that will include four conference opponents and begins Thursday morning with Seton Hall. RU will host the Pirates at 11:30 a.m. at the RU Tennis Bubble.

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