Knights take Huskies to task in win
With back-to-back losses during the weekend to Yale and Denver, it was important for the Rutgers tennis team to get back above .500 entering the later part of its schedule.
The Scarlet Knights accomplished it emphatically yesterday in a 7-0 win against Connecticut to move to 9-8 this season.
“We played very strong tennis today,” said head coach Ben Bucca. “This was a very good day for Rutgers tennis.”
The strong play began in doubles action, as the Knights swept the doubles point against the Huskies (7-8, 3-6).
Senior Jennifer Holzberg and sophomore Vanessa Petrini won their first No. 1 doubles match since winning March 25 against St. John’s. The duo defeated Jennifer Learmonth and Maxene Weinberg, 8-2. It currently holds a 12-4 record in doubles action, the best mark on the team.
“No. 1 doubles won very decisively and very quickly because they lost heartbreaking losses to both Denver and Yale,” Bucca said.
The Knights lost both matches by a total of three points, with their loss against Vicky Brook and Amber Li of Yale the closest.
Senior Morgan Ivey teamed with freshman Lindsay Balsamo to capture an 8-4 victory against UConn’s Alexa Gregory and Lucy Nutting. Sophomore Stefania Balasa and freshman Noor Judeh won in No. 3 doubles, 8-5, to complete the sweep.
Singles play, which fell short in both of last weekend’s matches, was strong against the Huskies, as all six positions won in straight sets.
The most convincing win came from Ivey, who blanked Weinberg, 6-0, 6-0, to win her second singles match in the past three outings. Her victory also tied her with Balasa for the team lead in singles wins with 11.
“The path of excellence is through consistency, and Morgan today was a model of consistency,” Bucca said. “She just had a great day today — both in doubles and in singles.”
Petrini and Holzberg were successful in Nos. 1 and 2 singles play, respectively, as both were unable to win their singles matches against Yale and Denver.
The sophomore defeated Learmonth, 6-4, 6-3, while Holzberg won, 6-2, 6-4, in No. 2 singles. Petrini’s win was her 10th of the season.
Balasa beat Nutting, 6-2, 6-3, and both freshmen captured straight-set wins in Nos. 5 and 6 singles, respectfully.
“What was really impressive of the day was when we came out in singles in the first set, we were just dominant,” Bucca said. “Right down the line, everyone was playing strong tennis, and to see [it] occur against a quality UConn team was uplifting for everyone on the team.”
With three Big East matches left — including April 12’s intrastate matchup against Seton Hall — it was important for the Knights to pick up a convincing win against a league opponent before the Big East Championships.
“This was a strong win,” Bucca said. “It gives us a lot of confidence and a lot of momentum now going into our next match against Seton Hall.”