Tennis takes to the court for first competitive match
The Rutgers tennis team puts its offseason work to the test today in the team's first competitive match of the year.
The Scarlet Knights face Brown, Boston and Auburn at the Brown Invitational in Rhode Island. The event features a two-day competition where each team member faces around three doubles and singles matches each.
The Knights put up a strong performance at last year's invitational with sophomore Maryana Milchutskey and junior Amy Zhang leading the pack.
Milchutskey won four singles matches on her way to the Flight C singles title, while Zhang made her way to the semifinals in the Flight A singles.
As for last week's scrimmage against Long Island, head coach Ben Bucca saw it as great preparation for this weekend.
"There's nothing like competing against another school," he said. "So we can have practice and inter-squad matches but you'll never replicate what it's actually like to walk out against another opponent."
With the exception of the team's performances in singles play, the Knights were on their game against Long Island University and showed that little improvement was needed from last year.
"I think it showed that with both off-course fitness training and on-course fitness training that we're doing just fine in that regard and that the girls can withstand the physical demands," Bucca said.
Other than minor issues, Bucca believes the Knights are ready to go for this weekend's invitational.
"We've practiced hard and I think they're ready to play as well as they're capable of playing and we'll see what happens," he said.
Although RU is up against three teams that were nationally ranked last year, Bucca sees this as a positive thing that will show just how much talent the tennis program at Rutgers really has.
"This is a great weekend for us to give us the exposure our program deserves, which is with the nationally ranked teams," he said. "It will give us a gage as to really how much improved our program really is."
After this weekend, the team gets almost a two week break from competition until Oct. 10 when they travel to Queens, N.Y. for the USTA Invitational.
Vanessa Petrini, a Stamford, Conn., native who is the two-time defending individual tennis champion in the state, has verbally committed to Rutgers.
Petrini is not eligible to officially sign with Rutgers until November.