March 19, 2019 | 42° F

Balsamo builds on experience from rookie year

Photo by Anastasia Millicker |

Sophomore Lindsay Balsamo won her singles draw last weekend at the Brown Invitational, the team’s first tournament since she went 13-8 in singles play as a freshman. Balsamo also played Nos. 2 and 3 doubles last year.

Coming off a successful freshman season for the Rutgers tennis team, sophomore Lindsay Balsamo has even higher expectations of herself this season.

The Scarlet Knights competed last weekend in the Brown Invitational, in which Balsamo won her singles draw and two doubles matches.

“I was excited to do well against some good teams and good players,” Balsamo said. “I felt like I was playing well, especially for the first tournament.”

She won all three of her singles matches, including a 6-4, 7-5 victory against Boston College’s Ina Kauppila. She also won two doubles matches with freshman Mariam Zein, advancing to the semifinals.

Head coach Ben Bucca was quick to praise Balsamo’s performance.

“Lindsay played very strong competitive tennis,” he said. “She won all her three singles matches. Although she played well in singles, I think the highlight of the tournament was how she played in doubles. I was very happy for her to see her play at such a high level.”

Balsamo said the Brown Invitational is a tournament she anticipates every year.

“I always look forward to this tournament because it’s the first tournament of the year,” she said. “It’s a good way to get into the swing of things and start competing. The competition is always good, too.”

Balsamo is coming off a freshman campaign in which she compiled a 13-8 record in singles play, along with competing in Nos. 2 and 3 doubles. Balsamo believes the experience she accumulated as a freshman made the transition into her sophomore year an easy one.

“Last year I really didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I was still trying to get into the swing of things this time last year, so it was nice just to be able to focus on the tennis in this tournament, rather than being nervous and still learning a lot.”

Throughout her freshman year, Balsamo continued to show improvement, Bucca said, and it is a reason she has been so successful now.

“Lindsay made a dramatic change as a tennis player during her freshman year,” Bucca said. “She really matured significantly on the court, and it really had a big impact on her play. She’s carried that into this year, and she just continues to get better.”

Balsamo, inspired by her freshman season, had a very productive summer, when she focused on improving as a tennis player.

“I played a lot of tennis over the summer and worked out a lot,” Balsamo said. “I also played a tournament just to keep that competitive edge.”

The positive results from the Brown Invitational left Balsamo excited and confident about the upcoming season, as well as the future of the team.

“I expect the team to do well,” she said. “We’re a young team, so I expect us to learn a lot this year. We’re going to do our best to compete.”

With no seniors on the roster, she is excited about the opportunity for the team to grow together the next two years.

“It’s nice that we’re going to be able to continue this next year with the same team,” she said.

The Wall, N.J., native is content with her decision to attend Rutgers, which appealed to her for several reasons.

“I really liked Coach [Bucca] and the girls on the team,” she said. “When I came on my official visit I knew it was just a good fit for me, and it’s not too far from home. I kind of loved everything about it.”

By Mike Morton

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