March 25, 2019 | 44° F

RU?opens season with strong play


It was a weekend of ups and downs for the Rutgers women’s tennis team at the annual Brown Invitational, which hosted six teams ranked regionally, including Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights won 10 of their 15 singles matches and nine of 12 in doubles competition. The team’s triumph in their doubles play, which head coach Ben Bucca said earlier in the year was an area that needed improvement, was a very nice surprise for the entire team.

Sophomore Stefania Balasa and freshman Noor Judah had the most success in Providence, R.I. Both ended their weekend dominating the court and winning all three of their doubles matches.

“We definitely had great success with doubles,” Bucca said. “We played some of the top teams in the east and hung with them all weekend. Three of our players won two out of their three doubles matches, which was great considering two of them were freshmen.”

Freshmen Lindsay Balsamo and Satreethai Sasinin each notched two wins in their first collegiate doubles competitions. Along with Judah’s perfect 3-0 record, the three new Knights provided a huge boost to the team’s overall morale and confidence.

“It lays the foundation for us to have a very, very bright future.” Bucca said.

Seeing the freshmen step up their level of play is going to be a huge key to the Knights’ success. And with their first tournament out of the way, any nerves the team worried about subsided.

With the season still young, the Knights have plenty that they can improve on over the next several weeks.

“It’s very clear we’ll have to get better,” Bucca said. “Everyone agreed that the best way to promote our improvement is to be indentified as a hard-working team. We left Providence very motivated.”

The Knights have plenty of time to make those improvements, with their next challenge coming Oct. 8-10 in the USTA Invitational. And the stiff competition in Providence presented an opportunity to see what areas the Knights still need to develop in their game.

“We saw some very hard-hitting aggressive style of play this weekend.” Bucca said. “We met competitors who integrated more variety into their game, so that’s what we’re going to do this week in practice, integrate the similar styles that we saw.”

The biggest key to the team’s success, according to Bucca, will be their ability to play Rutgers’ style of tennis — the same philosophy that Bucca preached to his team all year.

“They compete very hard in the court.” Bucca said. “When it comes to match time, we are focused and very serious. That is really the features that is typical for Rutgers tennis.”


By T.J. Nagy

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