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Rutgers loses to No. 2 Ohio State, knocks off Penn State in road trip

The Rutgers tennis team rounded out its long stretch away from campus this weekend with visits to two Big Ten opponents in Ohio State and Penn State. The Scarlet Knights (6-9, 1-5) entered the weekend without a win in Big Ten play and longing for a victory before a three-game home stand.

The weekend kicked off on Friday at noon in Columbus, Ohio against the No. 2 Buckeyes (17-2, 6-0). Ohio State has been on a tear this year, taking the top spot in the Big Ten. They entered the matchup on a two-win streak. Rutgers on the other hand has recently struggled entering that matchup on a three-loss streak. The Knights faced an uphill battle but were determined.

The doubles matches kicked off the afternoon festivities. Junior Mingxiu Du and freshman Katehrine Muzik teamed up and were soundly defeated by a score of 6-1.

The next set was completed by the duo of junior Chloe Lee and senior Ksenija Tihomirova. They also lost, this time being shut out, 6-0. With the two early losses, the doubles point was awarded to the Buckeyes, and senior Farris Cunningham and freshman Jacqueline Cochrane saw their match unfinished in the doubles competition.

After the quick defeat in the doubles sets, the singles began in similar fashion. Tihomirova was the first to finish in large part due to her being swept 6-0 in both sets.

Muzik finished shortly after. She was only able to secure one game in two sets losing by set scores of 6-1 and 6-0.

Lee jumped out to an average start taking two games in her first set yet still losing 6-2 and then losing the second set 6-0.

Despite the early lack of success the day improved for the Knights. Cochrane won three games in her first set, though she still lost that set 6-3 and the second one 6-1.

The real highlights of the day came from Du and Cunningham. Du kept both sets close and gave her opponent a little bit of a scare. Du finished her sets 6-3 and 6-4, respectively.

Cunningham seized the day for Rutgers with a huge win and a confidence boost for the Knights. She defeated her opponent handily 6-3 and 6-2. She was the last match of the day and the team took that momentum into the next day of play.

Despite the 6-1 loss that momentum did carry over to the next day. Rutgers took on Penn State (5-10, 2-3) in Happy Valley and came away with its first Big Ten win of the season.

The Nittany Lions had won two of their last three but lost their most recent match to Maryland.

The match started as it always does with the doubles competition. 

Du and Muzik won their set 6-1. Junior Lee Levy and Lee teamed up, but lost the second set 6-2 making the Cochrane and Cunningham match the decider for the doubles point. They narrowed out a hard-fought victory 6-4 to secure the first point and effectively the momentum for Rutgers.

The Knights established themselves early and that fueled the victory. Cunningham quickly handled her opponent 6-1 and 6-2 to give Rutgers a 2-point lead early. Cochrane followed Cunningham, but with a loss. Penn State only trailed by 1 at that point and the Lions quickly tied the match with a win over Lee in two sets.

From there, Rutgers regained control of the match. Tihomirova, Du and Muzik all defeated their opponents to give Rutgers the much sought after 5-2 Big Ten win. Momentum has fueled this team this season, and as the Knights head into a three-match homestand, it could not be more important.

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

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