September 24, 2018 | ° F

RU welcomes tough Georgetown team

Photo by Enrico Cabredo |

Sophomore?Stefania Balasa, above, and teammate Noor Judeh fell, 9-7, last week in doubles against Syracuse.

While Manasquan lies nearly 50 miles from Piscataway, it is the closest the Rutgers tennis team will come to playing at home for three weeks.

The Scarlet Knights take on Georgetown today before competing in five matches away from New Jersey. The Knights travel to Milwaukee next weekend and then to Charleston, S.C., the following week for three matches.

Before worrying about travel plans, head coach Ben Bucca wants his team’s focus on the matchup with the Hoyas.

“This match is a very important match for how we fare in the Big East,” Bucca said. “Georgetown is definitely one of the upper-tier programs in the Big East this year, so we really need to focus on winning this match and not looking beyond.”

The Hoyas are currently 4-2 after their victory Saturday against Old Dominion. Rutgers serves as Georgetown’s second Big East opponent of the season. They defeated Pittsburgh on Feb. 11, 6-1.

For Rutgers to beat Georgetown, it needs a strong start in doubles play. The Knights’ two losses this season started with tentative play in doubles.

Sophomore Stefania Balasa said the team worked on doubles all week in practice for the match.

“If you go out and start up in doubles and win the first point, it brings momentum that you want to carry over to singles,” she said. “That’s usually the deciding factor in a lot of matches.”

In last weekend’s 4-3 loss to Syracuse, Balasa and freshman Noor Judeh were unable to win a doubles match for Rutgers. Their 9-7 loss to the Orange paired with a defeat in doubles play from senior Morgan Ivey and freshman Lindsay Balsamo.

It is up to the duo of senior Jennifer Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini to kick-start doubles play for the Knights. The pair won their doubles match at Syracuse, 8-6, and experienced success in the No. 1 doubles position all season.

“We have the right combinations, and everyone is moving very well on the court,” Bucca said. “We just came up a little short against Syracuse, but we are feeling pretty confident about our doubles.”

Rutgers split singles play with Syracuse. It needs Holzberg and Ivey to perform well in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively, for the Knights to leave the Atlantic Club with a win. Both lost in the same positions last weekend to their Syracuse counterparts.

Georgetown’s first two singles players in Lauren Greco and Tina Tehrani also suffered losses against Old Dominion, so it is important for the senior co-captains to deliver victories in those positions.

Bucca emphasized in practice this week not only to start strong in doubles, but in singles, as well.

“Well, we have really been focused on two things — promoting very disciplined tennis and at the same time being aggressive,” he said. “We know that when we play with that style, it brings out the best in our games.”

By Bradly Derechailo

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