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Rutgers takes down NJIT, sweeps Binghamton in doubleheader action

After facing a grueling doubleheader on Friday, the Rutgers tennis team pulled away with wins against both NJIT and Binghamton. The Scarlet Knights (5-1) defeated the Highlanders (3-2) 4-1 in the morning before sweeping the Bearcats (1-7) 7-0 just hours later.

"I'm very pleased with how the team competed today," said head coach Hilary Ritchie. "We were mentally tough and consistent when it got close. Everyone fought until the end."

Beginning with the match against NJIT, Rutgers secured the doubles point, thanks to sophomores Kristiana Zahare and Sydney Jones, who captured a 6-2 win at the No. 1 spot, and sophomores Tess Fisher and Sydney Kaplan, who also teamed up for a 6-1 victory at the No. 2 spot.

Fisher and Kaplan proved to be dominant in their doubles and singles matches. Fisher played a strong match, closing in on a 6-2, 6-4 win at the top of the lineup. Kaplan's was the first singles match to finish. She had a crushing 6-1, 6-0 victory in the No. 4 slot.

Junior Maya Jacobs was the last Knight to run home with a 7-6, 6-3 win against the Highlanders at the No. 2 spot.

Not wasting any time against Binghamton, Rutgers clinched yet another doubles point and continued to come out victorious in each of its singles matches.

Fisher and Kaplan stormed away with a 6-0 win at the No. 2 position to go along with a 6-1 victory from senior Kat Muzik and Jacobs at No. 3.

In singles action, three Knights had to battle to third sets, but all came out with a win. Jacobs rallied 6-2 in the first set but played a tight second set where she lost 6-7. Pushed into a third set, Jacobs was able to stay consistent to come out with a 10-7 victory at the end.

At the No. 3 spot, Jones didn’t have the best start, falling 3-6 in the first set. With that being said, Jones fought her way back for a score of 6-2 and 10-8 in the latter portion of her singles match.

Toward the bottom of the lineup, junior Isabelle Da Silva also struggled at the beginning of her match, but left the Bearcats in the dust in the second and third sets (4-6, 6-0, 10-1).

"Having a doubleheader, we've never had that before and it's definitely tough having to play a match then play another one, but I think we came out aggressive and played how we've been practicing," Kaplan said. "We were successful in the first match and then came out just as aggressive in the second match and kept it up. We cheered each other on and we came out successful again."

Conference play is just getting started, with Rutgers’ Big Ten opener taking place on Valentine’s Day. The Knights will take on Maryland starting at 12:30 p.m. at the East Brunswick Racquet Club.

The Terrapins (5-3) are coming off an up-and-down weekend, where they swept Idaho (4-0) but lost to Oregon (1-6). This upcoming Friday will be the first conference match for both Maryland and Rutgers, but it won’t be an easy one for the Knights. 

Even with home court advantage, Rutgers has only won a single Big Ten match over the past two seasons against Nebraska (4-3). The Knights haven’t won a match against the Terrapins since joining the conference and, as of last year, lost 1-6 to Maryland in College Park, Maryland.

If Rutgers is able to come away with its first conference win in a Big Ten opener, it would be a program first and a huge confidence booster for the Knights heading into the rest of the season.

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

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