Looking back at Rutgers' tennis season
At the end of every season is an opportunity to reflect and grow. The Rutgers tennis team may have finished at the bottom of the conference, but not without taking some big steps in the right direction.
The Scarlet Knights (9-12, 1-10) won two matches against Big Ten competition, with the Penn State victory not actually counting toward their conference record. That is two more wins than last season where Rutgers had a winless Big Ten season.
Before the conference season, the Knights were 6-2, but quickly dropped off against the Big Ten. No seniors are graduating this year, so Rutgers will have time to continue building the program with the same players.
In the fall, freshman Tess Fisher and junior Kat Muzik impressed on the doubles court, and the spring showed that as well with an overall record of 7-5. But, a majority of those matches were won against non-conference teams with only one victory coming from the Big Ten.
On the other hand, the combination of Fisher and freshman Sydney Kaplan ran away with four Big Ten wins on a 4-2 conference record. Kaplan and Fisher have excelled on every stage, and their level of playing has pushed their way to multiple wins on end.
All the Singles Ladies
With only eight members, one player’s singles win can have a significant impact on the entire team.
Leading the charge this season was Kaplan, who was the only Knight to have a 5-5 Big Ten singles record and 12 total singles wins in the spring season. Her career goal is to have a .500 record by the time she leaves the Banks, and if she continues to get better, it looks like she’ll be able to attain that goal in the end.
Muzik also had a great season with a 11-8, 4-6 singles record. Muzik had an impressive fall season in doubles, and was able to translate her own singles success in the spring.
Another Rutgers player in her first season of Big Ten play, Fisher came away with a trio of conference wins (3-8) and an overall record of 9-11.
Not only have Fisher, Kaplan and Muzik been able to succeed in singles, but they are the players with the most amount of wins in doubles, no matter who they were paired up with.
Top of the Column
The hardest position to play for the Knights is the top seed. Other Big Ten teams have nationally ranked singles players at the top of their lineup, but lack a certain amount of depth.
For Rutgers, there is a lot of depth as the majority of its singles wins lies in the No. 3 and 4 singles positions. One player doesn’t truly rise above the rest, and it looks like the Knights will have some planning to do as to who will be seeded at the top.
Sophomore Maya Jacobs took on the reigns this season, but couldn’t win at singles against any team in the conference season with a 0-8 Big Ten record.
There are months before the next season in the fall, which will allow Rutgers to work out who will play best in what position. Since Fisher, Muzik and Kaplan were able to find success in singles, their lineup positions may change depending on their training and performances over the summer.
Sydney Jones is a freshman at Texas Tech University, but is transferring to the Knights' tennis program in the fall. A Carrollton, Texas native, Jones was a five-star recruit and ranked as high as No. 18 in the class of 2018.
"We are very excited to be adding (Jones) to our team next year," said head coach Hilary Ritchie on scarletknights.com. "She has a lot of experience competing at a high level. I think she is going to have a big impact on our singles and doubles lineups."
In the fall season of her freshman year, Jones tallied an 8-4 singles record and reached the ITA Regionals’ semifinals in doubles, similar to Fisher and Muzik’s doubles showing at their regionals.
Jones’s doubles action will be key for Rutgers when it comes down to the doubles point in close dual matches. Her experience will add another layer of depth to the Knights, and it’ll be interesting to see how she fares among Big Ten competition.
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