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Rutgers sweeps Delaware in spring season opener

The Rutgers tennis team swept Delaware in its home opener on Friday afternoon at the East Brunswick Racquet Club. The Scarlet Knights (1-0) won all six of their singles matches and clinched the doubles point to finish in a stellar 7-0 fashion against the Blue Hens (1-3).

Beginning in the No. 1 seed for doubles play, “KatFish” duo junior Kat Muzik and freshman Tess Fisher claimed the first win against Delaware's Viva Laas and Tayo Adetunji (6-3). Muzik and Fisher's semifinal performance at the ITA Regionals last fall and their most recent win should be a huge confidence booster for Rutgers as the team competes against more high-caliber teams throughout the season.

Freshman Sydney Kaplan and junior Jaci Cochrane also won, 6-3, against the Hens' Draga Sabotic and Sarah Whited. Sophomore Maya Jacobs and freshman Kristiana Zahare went point-for-point with Delaware’s Sarah Hall and Caragh Courtney with a score of 4-4.

“We have some really good team spirit and we kind of did what we want to do,” Cochrane said on the fall season. “We all did our part and we were able to close out doubles points. We had a little bit of really close ones in the doubles, which I think really helped us get some good singles wins in our tournaments last fall."

On the singles court, Zahare contributed the Knights’ first singles win of the season with a resounding 6-1, 6-0 score over the Hens’ Draga Sabotic to claim the No. 5 spot. Following up behind Zahare was sophomore Isabelle Da Silva with a dominant score of her own at 6-1, 6-2 for the No. 6 spot in the singles competition draw.

Kaplan and Cochrane secured the No. 3 and No. 4 positions, respectively. Kaplan swept the first set 6-0, but fell short in the second at 2-6. Kaplan came back to cap the third and final set with a 6-4 score. 

Cochrane won 6-4 in the first set, and after a long battle in the second set, she wasn’t about to let up on the home court. Cochrane claimed a 7-6 (5-0) score to finish the fourth singles match of the competition for Rutgers.

To complete the Knights’ home opener sweep, Jacobs and Muzik took hold of the top two and final positions against Delaware. After securing a fall singles record of 9-4, Jacobs got the job done in her first singles play of the season, defeating the Hens’ Viva Laas, 6-3, 4-6 and 6-2. 

A close match for the No. 2 spot had Muzik in a nail-biter against Courtney. Muzik fought her way into the first set to win 7-6 (4-0), but struggled to keep up in the second set where she lost 2-6. Muzik delivered for Rutgers to clinch a 10-8 rally to end an exciting first competition.

“I think tennis is such a unique sport because really it can come down to how we play,” said head coach Hilary Ritchie. “One day it could be the number one singles player in a tougher match or it might come down to a freshman at a different position, so in terms of our competition, I want to see who's going to step up and be a leader in close matches. Everyone on a small team can be a leader.”

The Knights will be taking on one competition at a time and working on what they can control, even under pressure situations. Rutgers will have to keep up its positive mentality as the season progresses to continue to build momentum from its success in the fall.

“We've had two really good goal setting sessions and we're trying to stay focus on the process and work hard to control the things that we can control," Ritchie said. "So that we can have a really good season in terms of our wins and losses."

Up next, the Knights will host Penn State on Feb. 1 at the East Brunswick Racquet Club.

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

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