Rutgers unable to fend off undefeated Nebraska

<p>Junior Chloe Lee and the Rutgers tennis team suffered a setback to an undefeated Nebraska team on Wednesday in East Brunswick.</p>

Junior Chloe Lee and the Rutgers tennis team suffered a setback to an undefeated Nebraska team on Wednesday in East Brunswick.

The Rutgers tennis team kicked off its Big Ten conference schedule with a tilt against Nebraska on Wednesday. The Scarlet Knights came into this matchup losers of the last three, while the Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-0, 1-0) came in undefeated in the season.

Rutgers desperately wanted to snag their first Big Ten win of the season and gain momentum for the upcoming matchup versus Penn. Their efforts unfortunately fell short as Nebraska swept the Knights (2-4, 0-1) in both double and single matches resulting in a 7-0 victory for the Cornhuskers (10-0, 1-0).

The day kicked off with the double sets. Senior Mingxiu Du and freshman Katherine Muzik lost their doubles set by a score of 6-2. Senior Farris Cunningham and freshman Jacqueline Cochrane also left the court without a victory after falling 6-0.

After Nebraska was awarded the doubles points, the singles kicked off. Muzik was the first of the Knights to finish her match after two sets. The set scores were 6-4 and 6-2, respectively. As a freshman this was Muzik's first Big Ten matchup. 

“I felt like I handled nerves pretty well, because I get pretty nervous. I like coming in as an underdog," Muzik said.

Muzik was also asked where she can improve as she adjusts to collegiate tennis. 

"In my mental game," she said. "Physically we matched up — I just made some poor shot selections whereas she didn't."

The other matches of the day featured senior Ksenija Tihomirova losing in two sets to the tune of 6-1 and 7-5.

Cochrane finished her match with a loss as well after set scores of 6-3 and 6-0.

Du hit her stride in the second set yet still fell after scores of 6-1 and 7-5.

The final two matches of the day were undoubtedly the most exciting and the most competitive as junior Chloe Lee and senior Farris Cunningham each took their matches to a third set.

Lee fought hard to get her team on the board. She finished her sets with scores of 6-4, 3-6 and 10-5, winning the second set only.

“I felt pretty good about it. I think there is a lot of room for improvement. I think we did a lot of things well," Lee said. “Today I buckled down more than previous matches so I can take that into my other matches. You can’t outhit every player, you need to play more strategically.”

The last matchup of the day featured Cunningham fighting relentlessly yet ultimately falling in three sets after scores of 7-6, 5-7 and 10-5. Farris embodied the team’s attitude to never give up and keep fighting. Their next matchup will come this Sunday at Penn.

Even though the Cornhuskers won, Rutgers fought valiantly. Head coach Hilary Ritchie expressed confidence in the team following its fourth straight loss.

“In terms of how we score ... we're going to keep getting experience and executing at the big points," Ritchie said.

On the slow start to the season, Richie remained optimistic on the team's outlook going forward.

“It’s been a good start for the team," she said. "We’re doing the right thing in practice, we’re working very hard and we have to keep plugging away.”

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

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