Rutgers faced with another tough Big Ten road trip

The Rutgers tennis team will conclude its circuit of away games this weekend when it visits Ohio State Friday and Penn State Sunday. The Scarlet Knights (5-8, 0-4) as recently as the past weekend had two chances to get the Big Ten win that has eluded them all season. After failing to do so this weekend presents two more opportunities.

Their first match of the weekend is Friday at noon against No. 1 Ohio State (16-2, 4-0) in Columbus Ohio. The Buckeyes are undefeated in Big Ten play most recently defeating Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

With the Buckeyes trending upward it will be hard for a Rutgers team that is trending in the wrong direction to compete against the juggernaut. The only team to defeat the Buckeyes since the beginning of February was No. 1 ranked Florida.

The Knights will look to not only hand the Buckeyes their first conference loss of the season, but with a win, they can start their ascent to the upper echelon of teams in the conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It will prove difficult and truly be a test for Rutgers.

“It'll be a tough match for sure, but I’m excited,” said junior Chloe Lee.

Tough is an understatement as Rutgers will have its hands full. If the team can get a doubles point and get into a groove a win is not impossible, but the Knights will have to be on their best game.

They have not been on their best game as of late though, losing three of their last five. The two wins they've been able to pick up were against weaker out of conference competition. Rutgers is also on a three-game losing streak with all three of those losses coming against Big Ten opponents Indiana, Illinois and Northwestern.

Rutgers was not efficient scoring-wise in those matches, only scoring 2 points in two matches and 1 point in another. Part of the team's struggles could stem from the lack of any home match since March 8. But some players still insist their game isn't affected by traveling.

“I grew up traveling to play tennis,” said freshman Katherine Muzik, “This isn't unusual. I'm actually (more) used to traveling than having a home court.”

Muzik’s is hoping her comfort with traveling can translate to the rest of the team.

After the Knights visit the Buckeyes they take a trip to Happy Valley and visit Penn State (5-8, 2-1) for Sunday's match. The Nittany Lions have lost five of their last seven, but have won their past two against Big Ten opponents Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

Despite the burden of not having a conference win yet, Rutgers remains poised and focused as it prepares for another important weekend trip.

“Being on the road could be a good thing,” said head coach Hilary Ritchie. “We’re gonna take it in stride and travel as well as we can.”

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

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