Three-set victory seals outcome for RU
It is not often the outcome of a match is decided by the last contest.
But that is exactly what happened in the Rutgers tennis team’s 4-3 victory Friday against Georgetown.
With the score tied, 3-3, the Hoyas’ Tina Tehrani took sophomore Vanessa Petrini to a third set. The players went back and forth, resulting in a third-set tiebreaker. Petrini was then able to defeat Tehrani, 7-4, in the deciding set, which gave the Scarlet Knights their first Big East win of the season.
Head coach Ben Bucca said it was the first time during his coaching career the last match came down to a third set tiebreaker.
“That is as intense and pressure-filled moment you can have in college tennis,” he said. “Vanessa was outstanding.”
The Knights began the match in the same hole they faced against Syracuse. While the pair of senior Morgan Ivey and freshman Lindsay Balsamo delivered a win in the No. 3 doubles position, Georgetown took wins in both the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles positions.
Senior Jennifer Holzberg and Petrini dropped their doubles match, 8-6, while sophomore Stefania Balasa and freshman Noor Judeh lost, 9-7.
The doubles losses meant Rutgers had to win four of six singles matches to walk out of the Atlantic Club with a victory.
“We really showed just an incredible competitive spirit,” Bucca said. “The players on our team know how to compete and know how to compete well.”
Balasa delivered the first singles victory in the No. 4 position in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1, against Victoria Sekely.
Ivey battled Georgetown’s Kelly Comolli all match and defeated her, 7-5, 7-5, to put Rutgers ahead, 2-1.
The Hoyas swept two singles matches with Holzberg and Judeh before Balsamo battled back to win her match, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Balsamo’s victory capped an impressive day for her and Ivey, the only Knights to win in both singles and doubles play. The rookie’s performance also made Petrini’s match against Tehrani the deciding factor in the game.
“That was a significant victory. That was definitely one of the closest, if not the closest, college match I’ve ever coached,” Bucca said. “Right down the line it was just so competitive in doubles, as well as in singles.”
Rutgers improved to 5-2 on the season while the Hoyas dropped to 4-2.
The Knights’ victory serves as their last appearance until March 2, when they travel to Milwaukee to face off against Marquette and DePaul on back-to-back days.
They then compete in South Carolina against the College of Charleston, Charleston Southern and Boston University.
The five-game road schedule gives the team an opportunity to gear up for the rest of its Big East matches.
“We are looking forward to traveling,” Bucca said. “But the reality of it is that we have five away matches in which the competition is going to be extremely tough. It always makes it tougher when you’re traveling.”