Rutgers hosts two Big Ten opponents in Minnesota, Wisconsin

The Rutgers tennis team will take on its last two Big Ten opponents and its final opponents of the year this weekend. 

The Scarlet Knights (7-12, 1-8) will face off at home against Wisconsin (4-14, 0-9) Friday and Minnesota (12-10, 4-4) Sunday. Both matches are expected to be played outdoors at the Busch Tennis Center.

Last time out, Rutgers traveled to Maryland and fell to the Terrapins by a score of 6-1. 

The team has one win on the season in the Big Ten, and the match Friday at noon against Wisconsin presents its best opportunity to double that total. 

To get another Big Ten win would obviously be huge for this team seeing as the first one was so historic for the program.

“Oh it was huge, it’s been a long time coming. Everyone was really excited,” said junior Chloe Lee of the win.

That first Big Ten win came against rival Penn State who ranked lower than the Knights in Big Ten play at the time. Rutgers capitalized off of the Lions' slump at the time. 

But the Badgers are currently in a much worse slump. They have lost their last nine matches, they sit last in the Big Ten and they have not secured a single Big Ten win this season. In fact, their nine straight losses are all Big Ten matches. Rutgers is poised to keep Wisconsin in that slump.

One thing that has determined how matches go is the energy at the beginning of the match. If the Knights are excited and energetic, they generally play better.

“We have to find the energy to finish strong here at home,” said head coach Hilary Ritchie after the team's last match against Maryland.

In matches that Rutgers has won the doubles point, it has won the entire match, save one exception. 

Meanwhile, the confidence and energy from the Badgers cannot be high considering they have not scored more than two points in a match since Feb. 24.

While the Knights may not be in the best position to get a bid for the Big Ten Championships next week as they are currently sporting a .111 Big Ten winning percentage, they still can win Friday and use the momentum to snag a late season win Sunday.

Sunday's match is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at the Rutgers Tennis Complex located on Busch campus. 

If all goes well on Friday, Rutgers will have a huge confidence boost and another Big Ten win. Minnesota has been better than the Knights in Big Ten play thus far. It is currently on a two-match winning streak against Big Ten teams, with consecutive wins over Purdue and Indiana. 

But the Gophers have lost four previous matches, three of which have been against Big Ten competition. 

Rutgers will hope to end its winning streak if it continues past its Friday matchup in College Park against the Terrapins. It has to improve on a few things to get this win.

“We have to step up to the ball more and move our feet more, play aggressive,” Ritchie said.

If the Knights establish a rhythm and play like they want to win, then finishing the year off on a two-match winning streak is not impossible. 

“I feel good about the remaining schedule. I think we can pick up some quality wins here at home,” Ritchie said.

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

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