RU seeks to rebound with win as postseason play nears

<p>Senior Morgan Ivey earned the Knights’ only singles victory against Yale.</p>

Senior Morgan Ivey earned the Knights’ only singles victory against Yale.

If there is one thing Morgan Ivey and the rest of the Rutgers tennis team took from last weekend’s losses to Yale and Denver, it was to focus on their separate goals each felt she needed to improve.

“Individually, we know what we need to work on,” Ivey said. “Tennis is an individual sport. While we practice as a team, we each have to go out with our personal goals of what we need to work on in each match.”

The Scarlet Knights (8-8, 3-3) have that opportunity today, when they host their third Big East match against Connecticut.

The Huskies enter the RU Tennis Complex as winners of six of their last seven, but they also lost by convincing margins to teams the Knights defeated this season. Georgetown upended UConn, 7-0, last week. Rutgers beat the Hoyas on Feb. 24, winning, 4-3.

It is important for Rutgers to pick up its ninth win of the season. With only four matches left in the regular season, every match is crucial for the Knights once the postseason arrives.

“There’s always pressure to win, especially when you have four Big East matches in a row,” Ivey said. “We really want to steamroll these last four, especially going into the conference tournament.”

For Rutgers to enjoy its fourth Big East victory of the season, it needs to start off fast in doubles. Doubles play this past weekend resulted in losses, but each match was close. In the Knights’ six doubles matches in their past two contests, they lost five out of six by two points or less.

A 9-8 defeat from senior Jennifer Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini in No. 1 doubles against No. 26 Yale was the closest.

Head coach Ben Bucca was happy with their performance in team play.

“Doubles was actually a lot closer than singles,” Bucca said about last weekend. “Even though the singles was close, the doubles was right there.”

Singles is where Rutgers has to improve the most from its last matches. The Knights only captured three singles victories during the two-match stretch.

Holzberg and Petrini each lost both of their matches, a rarity for both to lose singles matches against the same opponent.

One of those wins in singles play came from Ivey, who delivered the only point against Yale in Rutgers’ 6-1 loss to the Bulldogs. She won her match, 6-3, 2-6, 10-7, against Steph Kent.

With Holzberg and Petrini leading off in the Nos. 1 and 2 singles positions, it is pivotal for the Knights that all three to perform well against UConn’s (6-7, 3-4) top-three singles players.

But the competition from both Yale and Denver has Ivey optimistic about the outcome against the Huskies.

“I think Ben summed it up pretty well. It was frustrating to compete so well but yet still not come up with a [win] on both ends,” Ivey said. “We definitely played some good tennis in both matches, but they just came out on top. I think with time we will be able to turn those into wins.”

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