May 25, 2019 | 69° F

Doubles teams emerging as strength

The Rutgers women’s tennis team competed well this weekend at the USTA Invitational, going 13-8 in singles and 5-4 in doubles.

After some important victories, the Knights and head coach Ben Bucca believe they deserve to be considered among the best teams in the area.

“We’ve definitely established ourselves and will continue our tradition of being one for the top teams in the region.” Bucca said. “We’re playing against some of the best competition, and we’re holding our own. So far this season we’ve laid a very strong foundation of being able to compete with the best.”

The tournament took place in New York City at the same complex where the U.S. Open is hosted and showcased some of the best teams, ranging from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

Although this was the first time in a few years the Knights did not have a team in the main draw finals, three of their players were able to reach the semifinals, something the Knights have not accomplished in their eight years at the tournament.

The Knights also won each of the 10 tiebreakers they competed in over the weekend.

“We had a very strong performance,” Bucca said. “Looking at it comprehensively across the board, and at our performance as a team, this is definitely the most number of wins we’ve had at this tournament.”

Sophomore Vanessa Petrini, freshman Lindsay Balsamo and junior Michelle Green, who each made it to the semifinals in their respected draws, led the Knights’ success.

As for doubles, what was once an Achilles’ heel is quickly becoming a strength.

The Knights continued to play well against the tough competition. Senior Jennifer Holzberg and Petrini even defeated the same Brown team that beat them in their last meeting.

“It’s very clear that doubles is going to be a key to our success this year.” Bucca said. “The pursuit of playing excellent doubles is one that we have to continue. Everyone is really working hard and we’re in great shape. So it’s really just a matter of continuing with the work ethic that they’ve displayed so far and continuing to develop a strong team spirit.”

The Knights travel to Columbia on Tuesday to face their Ivy League opponent. In the meantime, Bucca and his team will attempt to have another successful week of practice.

“I have to believe that this gave everyone on this team a lot of confidence,” Bucca said. “We just played tennis the right way this weekend. We played with confidence and a seriousness of our purpose when we’re on the court, and I think that those are little intangibles that help to make a difference in our play.”

By T.J. Nagy

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