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Rutgers edges Seton Hall for 1st away win of season

After the sun had set, the Rutgers tennis team served up a win against Seton Hall in a late-night match on Sunday in South Orange, New Jersey. Finishing up their two-match New Jersey road trip, the Scarlet Knights (4-2) defeated the Pirates (4-4) in a 5-2 win to clinch their first victory at an away competition this season.

Beginning with doubles, Rutgers claimed the No. 1 and No. 2 spots to secure an early lead. The duo of junior Kat Muzik and freshman Tess Fisher went 6-2 with Seton Hall’s Anicka Fajnorova and Regina Pitts for the win. 

Also putting together a dominant win for the Knights were team captains sophomore Maya Jacobs and junior Jaci Cochrane, who have established themselves as a strong doubles pair as well.

"Today, the team came out with a lot of good energy right away starting with doubles," Cochrane said. "We got the doubles point and carried the energy into singles.”

Bouncing back from her first singles loss at Princeton last week, Jacobs captured the No. 1 position in the singles competition. She topped the Pirates’ Fajnorova in their singles match with a solid 6-2, 6-1 victory, bringing her singles record up to 5-1.

Rutgers failed to capture the next two spots with Muzik and Fisher fighting to third sets. Muzik had been undefeated in singles matches this season, but fell to Pitts in sets of 6-3, 3-6, 1-6 at the No. 2 position. Fisher competed against Seton Hall's Melody Taal, but lost 6-3, 6-7 (0-3), 3-6.

“Singles was really tight,” Cochrane said. “The team as a whole had to be mentally tough and fight our way out of some really close matches."

The Knights were able to secure the last three spots in singles competition to secure the win in that category. Freshman Sydney Kaplan, Cochrane and sophomore Isabelle Da Silva won their singles matches.

Da Silva put up a strong performance at the No. 6 slot with a 6-2, 6-1 victory. Kaplan never let up on the No. 4 spot to sneak past the Pirates' Minja Gligic by the third set (6-7 (0-3), 6-4, 10-4). Also playing to three sets, Cochrane held the No. 5 position with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 to clinch the match.

Going into a third set is always tough to see who has the stamina and determination to come out with the win. Rutgers tried to minimize playing in a third set by setting the tone early on, so it’s not worrying about the pressure of having to come back around.

“We really want to capitalize on opportunities that we have,” Muzik said. “Close out big points and close out games when we have the opportunity. That goal has definitely played a big part in us trying to win the games and sets when we have the chance”

Next up, the Knights are competing at home before their two-game road trip to Maryland. Rutgers will face Buffalo on Friday at the East Brunswick Racquet Club, with competition starting at 12:30 p.m.

Last week, the Bulls (6-2) fell to West Virginia in a 1-6 loss at home, winning all three doubles matches for the early lead before losing all six singles matches. Buffalo has clinched every singles double point this season — something that the Knights are hungry to break.

Rutgers previously competed against the Bulls at the Buffalo Invitational back in the end of October where the Knights tied Buffalo in doubles matches with two apiece. Singles play was just as tight with Rutgers claiming four singles wins over the Bulls’ three wins.

Having a home court advantage is huge for the Knights, but Buffalo will be coming in wanting revenge when Rutgers won against them in the Bulls’ home court.

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

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