May 24, 2019 | 62° F

Rutgers grips for first invitational in two weeks

Photo by The Daily Targum |

Senior Jennifer?Holzberg teamed with sophomore Vanessa Petrini to win two of the pair’s three doubles matches for the Scarlet Knights at the Brown Invitational.

After another week of practice, the Rutgers women’s tennis team is ready to pack its bags once again and head to the Big Apple for the annual USTA Invitational.

The Scarlet Knights found success at the tournament last season, especially in their doubles play.

Head coach Ben Bucca hopes for a repeat performance from the team this time around.

“The dynamic of this team is very healthy right now,” Bucca said. “The team is exactly where it should be, and everyone’s anxious to get to New York City and play on the big stage.”

Senior Jennifer Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini lead the Knights’ doubles competitions. The team of Holzberg and Petrini won two of its three matches two weeks ago at the Brown Invitational.

The National Tennis Center hosts the USTA Invitational and features 20 of the best schools from Washington, D.C., to Boston, including the top Ivy League programs.

With all the top competition, the Knights’ performance this weekend will go a long way in cementing their place among regional powers.

“It’s the best regional competition going,” Bucca said. “The USTA Invitational brings together all the top players from the region in one of the finest outdoor facilities in the country in the best city in the world.”

The National Tennis Center is also home to the U.S. Open and playing under the lights of New York City this weekend is certainly one of the many obstacles the team faces.

“This will be a good measure for the team,” Bucca said. “Every year we’ve participated at this tournament, we’ve gotten better and better results. So we’re definitely walking into this tournament as a team with a totally different expectation then when we first walked in here eight years ago.”

After a performance at Brown that highlighted the team’s strengths and weaknesses, Bucca is optimistic its experience helped the Knights become more seasoned.

Another strong week of practice aided the Knights in becoming a more confident team on the court, as well.

“We brought up the issues we needed to work on after Brown, and the biggest one is that we wanted to bring more variety to our game,” Bucca said. “At Brown, we were playing aggressive, hard-nosed tennis, and we were probably not doing as well in terms of defense. So we practiced very hard at that, and the girls really did a good job this week.”

The Knights plan to handle their biggest challenge yet and leave New York with a successful weekend.

“Ultimately, it all boils down to how we play once we get on the court, and that reflects on our practices,” Bucca said. “That’s why I think we’ll have some strong play this week. We had a great week of practice, and I think I speak for everyone on the team when I say that we’re primed and ready to play well.”

By T.J. Nagy

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