Challenging weekend awaits deeper RU?roster
With back-to-back victories against Lehigh and Fairleigh Dickinson on the back burner, the Rutgers women’s tennis team’s next three matches resemble the competition it will see once the Big East season commences.
Quinnipiac, owner of five consecutive Northeast Conference championships, visits New Jersey tomorrow to kick off the Scarlet Knights’ challenging weekend. The match is the Bobcats’ first of the spring season.
The Knights then travel south Sunday to face off against Princeton. The Tigers are 1-1 after dropping a match, 5-2, on Friday to No. 13 Georgia Tech.
Head coach Ben Bucca sees this weekend’s matchups as an opportunity to improve the team’s record and begin to get a feel for what it will see in league play.
“The two wins gave us a lot of confidence, but we’ve been focusing on techniques to promote good play,” Bucca said. “[These next two matches] will give us a good measurement to where we are this weekend as a team.”
Both singles and doubles have been successful thus far, but it will be the performance in doubles this weekend that will aid Rutgers.
The pair of senior Jennifer Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini turned in an 8-2 match win against Lehigh and an 8-4 decision in its win against Fairleigh Dickinson.
But it is the surprising chemistry between senior Morgan Ivey and freshman Lindsay Balsamo that provides depth in doubles action. Balsamo’s play impressed both Bucca and Ivey after the pair’s two match victories.
“Lindsay and I get along really well on the court,” Ivey said. “She couldn’t have a better attitude, and it has been great playing with her. There is great chemistry there.”
Balsamo has been the strongest of the three freshmen thus far, playing in the fifth position in singles as well as contributing in doubles play with Ivey. Fellow freshmen Noor Judeh and Satreethai Sasinin also saw time in the sixth spot on the singles roster.
The depth will help Rutgers win matches later in the season, Bucca said.
“We have very talented players right through the lineup,” Bucca said. “A win in the sixth singles position counts just as much as one in the first. So you not only win with talent at the top, but depth throughout.”
While the freshmen provide depth, veteran Holzberg has been the player taking on the opponent’s top athlete.
“They are going to be two good and competitive matches,” Holzberg said. “It’s going to be very tough.”