Rutgers travels to College Park for final road game against Maryland
The Rutgers tennis team will play in its final regular season road match this season on Saturday in College Park against Maryland. Rutgers (7-11, 1-6) will take on Maryland (13-5, 4-4) in a crucial Big Ten tilt for the program. The Terrapins are looking to get above .500 in conference play and the Knights are fighting for a spot in the Big Ten Championships.
Maryland is a top 50 team in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) ranking currently at 44. At one point, it was ranked as high as 33. Rutgers comes into the matchup fresh off a win and riding a wave of confidence it hopes to see last until the end of the season.
“The win (against Stony Brook) gave us a lot of confidence,” said junior Lee Levy.
With the upcoming match, many members of the team are looking to build off recent success or turn their play around. Senior Farris Cunningham looks to capture her tenth win of the season in singles competition. Cunningham is closing out the year with a bang. She’s won five of her last six singles matches, with four of those coming against Big Ten opponents. Her last time out against Stony Brook, she easily handled her opponent, sweeping her 6-0 in both sets.
Freshman Katherine Muzik also looks to increase her win total to a second best nine singles victories. She has been a valuable addition to the team this year and looks to build off the success she's had. The entire team has been improving in practice these few weeks and continues to do so.
“Before our last road trip, we have two more practices — we plan to use those to strengthen some points in our game," Levy said. "Against Maryland, we need to find the right energy early on in the match and play great tennis from beginning to end.”
As mentioned, this is Rutgers' last road trip of the season. It has not been a successful team on the road, losing seven of its nine previous road match-ups. After this weekend, the last two matches for the Knights will be at home where they are 4-4. All of these are Big Ten matches.
“We have a few matches that I feel are going to be very key for us,” said head coach Hilary Ritchie.
This roster is talented and has the chance to beat any of its three opponents. What matters is how the matches start. The Knights feed off of energy. When the energy isn't there from the start, it's difficult for them to get into a groove and close out matches. Even against Stony Brook, the team's most recent win, it started slow and was forced to move inside due to rain, where its energy increased and it took down its opponent.
Fans also help. When the Rutgers faced off against Michigan State, it was clear that junior Mingxiu Du fed off the energy from the fans as she was the closest court to them. She was the only one to score in that match. The Knights can play well, it's simply all about their energy.
“As we approach the last few matches we get to the point of the season that we know we have the ability to play well, it's really just a matter of bringing it to the match,” Levy said.
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