Rutgers drops both Big Ten matches over weekend

The Rutgers tennis team returned home this weekend after not having a home match since March 8. The Scarlet Knights (6-11, 1-7) entered the weekend coming off their first Big Ten conference win in the team's history against Penn State. They were slated to play No. 8 Michigan (15-4, 7-1) on Friday and Michigan State (15-5, 5-2) on Sunday. Ultimately, Rutgers fell short, losing both matches 6-1.

The weekend started off with Michigan traveling to the East Brunswick Racquet Club. The match started off with the doubles sets. Junior Mingxiu Du and freshman Katherine Muzik were the first duo to finish, taking the loss 6-2. Soon after, junior Chloe Lee and senior Ksenija Tihomirova also fell short losing 6-4, giving the first point to the Wolverines.

The singles started with Lee losing her match in two sets, 6-2 and 6-0. Not long after, Du also fell by scores of 6-2 and 6-1.

Muzik has been one of the more successful players on the team racking up 7 points this year second only to senior Farris Cunningham but could not add to that season point total nor the match point total as she fell in two sets, 6-2 and 6-3.

The lone Knights point came from its highest scorer in Cunningham. With this singles victory, she increased her win total to 8 and her fourth straight match with a singles victory. She secured this victory by defeating her opponent 6-4 and 6-3.

The match concluded with two long points being awarded to Michigan. The first was Tihomirova's match, in which she lost in three sets by scores of 3-6, 6-1 and 6-2. The last point was scored by Michigan as freshman Jacqueline Cochrane took her singles match to a tiebreaker but lost by a score of 10-7.

Sunday, Rutgers attempted to rebound from its loss by taking on Michigan State at the East Brunswick Racquet Club. The weather was beautiful and the team was ecstatic to be outside.

“Finally being home is huge, but being outside is even better,” Lee said.

Muzik and Du finished their doubles set first, losing 6-1. Lee and Tihomirova led in their set but could not complete theirs and the duo of Cunningham and Cochrane lost before they finished, awarding the doubles point to the Spartans.

In singles, Tihomirova was hampered by a foot injury, and it showed, as she was soundly defeated in two sets by scores of 6-1 each.

Du was competing on the court closest to Knights fans, and she used the support to surge toward a commanding victory with scores of 6-2 and 6-0.

“I felt good," Du said. "The energy wasn't there in the doubles set so in singles I tried to improve my energy level and I fought for each point."

The match followed a similar pattern after that. Cochrane fell in two sets each by scores of 6-4. Lee finished not long after. She had started off well only losing the first set 7-5, but afterward was beaten 6-0.

Muzik competed hard but ultimately lost in two sets by scores of 6-2 and 6-3. The last match of the day was Cunningham, who was fighting to not only get Rutgers a second point but also looked to increase her singles match winning streak to five. She fell short losing in the tiebreaker 10-2.

The Knights only have four matches left, with three of them at home. 

“We gotta refocus and find the energy to finish strong at home,” said head coach Hilary Ritchie.

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

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