May 22, 2019 | 66° F

Second match features clean Rutgers sweep

Photo by The Daily Targum |

Sophomore No. 4 singles Stefania Balasa won her match Thursday at Lehigh in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0. Balasa also teamed up with freshman Satreethai Sasinin in No. 3 doubles, defeating a Mountain?Hawks duo, 8-0, in Bethlehem, Pa.

The Rutgers tennis team started the season the way head coach Ben Bucca wanted: sweeping Fairleigh Dickinson University, 7-0, Sunday to earn its second victory of the season.

“This was a strong and convincing win,” said head coach Ben Bucca in a press release. “It reflected a high level of play on behalf of RU as Lehigh is a well-coached, quality opponent.”

The Scarlet Knights took all three doubles matches against the Mountain Hawks. Senior Jennifer Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini took the first match, 8-2. In the second match, senior Morgan Ivey competed with freshman Lindsay Balsamo to win by another 8-2 score. Sophomore Stefania Balasa and freshman Satreethai Sasinin took the final doubles match, 8-0.

“In doubles, Vanessa [Petrini] and I played aggressive tennis that helped us defeat Lehigh,” Holzberg said in a press release. “In singles, I was very consistent and moved my opponent around the court well. I think overall I played well today.”

Bucca was not available to the media following Rutgers’ match yesterday against intrastate foe Fairleigh Dickinson. Because of colder weather conditions, the match moved to the Atlantic Club in Manasquan instead of Rutgers’ Piscataway facilities.

The Knights continued their dominance on the court in singles competition, not dropping a single set to Lehigh.

Holzberg went first for the Knights and left the match with a win, defeating Jenai Bilimoria, 6-0 and 6-1, in straight sets.

Ivey followed with a straight-set victory against Abigail Farrell, 6-4 and 6-2.

The freshman duo of Balsamo and Sasinin both left Lehigh victorious. Balsamo defeated Jill Sloand, 6-0 and 6-0, and Sasinin took down Gabby Drucker, 6-1 and 6-4.

Balasa and Petrini also took home victories for the Knights.

Balsamo and Sasinin each made their collegiate debuts in the Nos. 5 and 6 singles slots, respectively.

Holzberg is in her first season as the Knights’ No. 1 singles player after playing every match last spring in the No. 2 slot behind Amy Zhang. Holzberg went 16-4 in that role and 15-5 in doubles play with Zhang as the top tandem.

Although Holzberg inherited Zhang’s role as the No. 1 singles player in the Fall, Petrini won the team’s Most Valuable Player Award after a semifinal appearance at the USTA/ITA Division I Women’s Northeast Regional Championships.

She won, 6-1 and 6-1, against Lehigh’s Liz Piscitelli on Thursday in Bethlehem, Pa.

Fairleigh Dickinson also opened its season with a 7-0 shutout against Lehigh, winning deciding games in the first three sets of as many matches.

Rutgers faces three non-conference opponents within a week, beginning Friday against Quinnipiac. It follows with four matches against Big East teams, culminating with a March 3 meeting with DePaul in Chicago.

The Knights take on three non-conference foes afterward in a tournament in Charleston, S.C.

The Big East season ends April 15 against West Virginia at the RU Tennis Complex, followed by the four-day Big East Tournament beginning April 19.

By Bradly Derechailo

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