May 24, 2019 | 62° F

Columbia scrimmage provides tune-up for Regionals

Photo by The Daily Targum |

Senior Jennifer Holzberg is one of two?Scarlet Knights participating in singles play at the ITA?Regionals, along with sophomore Vanessa Petrini, who she will partner with in doubles.

After a small break from competition last weekend, this week shapes up as an eventful one for the Rutgers tennis team. Beside their usual week of practice, the Scarlet Knights traveled to New York yesterday to face Columbia in a scrimmage.

The Knights hope to use the experience on the court to strengthen their skills in every aspect of their game.

“We’ve definitely been focusing on a certain pattern in regard to play, and we’ll look for that,” said head coach Ben Bucca. “Certain things like reinforcing in doubles — how we move on the court, what we’re doing when the balls being hit to us — are all things we’re focusing on. We’re also focusing more on singles and really paying a lot of attention to that in the last couple of weeks.”

The match also allowed the Knights to record competition experience in an indoor facility and prepared them for the upcoming ITA Regionals at Yale.

“We met Columbia previously in the USTA Invitational, and they’re a very strong Ivy League team,” Bucca said. “We’ve continued in every competition to play the best teams on the East Coast, and Columbia is clearly a force in the Ivy League.”

The Knights see more East Coast powerhouses tomorrow, when they head north for the invitational’s regional finals.

The Knights are one of 35 teams competing in the event. Historically, they never made it past the round of 16, but Bucca and his team hope this is the year it changes.

Senior Jennifer Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini both qualified in singles in the main draw. They also join forces in doubles play.

The last time the two teamed up at the USTA Invitational, they came away with two big wins.

Senior Morgan Ivey and sophomore Stefania Balasa will also compete in doubles at Yale this weekend, giving the Knights another opportunity for success.

“The competition at regionals is very tough, so we’ll just have to see,” Bucca said. “Especially this particular one, there is nobody in the tournament specifically better than anybody else, so this tournament is very wide open.”

Led by strong senior leadership and solid doubles competitors, the Knights have an opportunity to continue their improved play and cement themselves as one of the better teams on the East Coast.

“I think I speak for the whole team that we’re going to walk in very confident and do well this weekend,” Bucca said.

By T.J. Nagy

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