Knights earn school-record seven invitations to ITA
The Rutgers tennis team competes in its final tournament of the fall season this weekend, when it takes part in the ITA Regional Championships at the Lichtenberg Tennis Center in West Point, N.Y.
Seven Scarlet Knights compete in this year’s tournament, the most ever in head coach Ben Bucca’s 10 years with the program.
“I think it’s a great testament to the hard work the players have put in this fall,” Bucca said, “as well as the strong results in tournaments.”
Juniors Stefania Balasa and Vanessa Petrini, sophomores Lindsay Balsamo and Noor Judeh and freshmen Lindsey Kayati, Gina Li and Mariam Zein were all invited to compete in the tournament.
A tournament committee reviewed all applications and selected players based on performance so far in the fall season. It selected four Knights for the singles tournament and three Rutgers doubles teams.
Players from 37 teams participate in the Northeast region at the tournament. A singles tournament and doubles tournament occur simultaneously, with each being single elimination, Bucca said.
Before the team travels to the ITA Regionals, Rutgers visits Princeton for a joint practice.
“The way that the schedule is structured, it has really put us in a position that we are very well prepared for the regional championships,” Bucca said.
Another bonus of playing at Princeton is the joint practice is indoors.
“The indoor game is slightly different than playing tennis outside,” Bucca said. “This is going to acclimate us to what it’s like to play indoors, which is a little bit faster play. You don’t have to deal with the elements, so your shot-making has to be very crisp and strong. There’s no better preparation than us going down to Princeton and having a good competition.”
The end of the ITA Regionals marks the close of Rutgers’ fall season. It had previously played in two tournaments — the Brown Invitational and the USTA Invitational — this fall.
“We have competed against all the top schools [this fall], so we are familiar with all the top competition in the region,” Bucca said. “We’re going in there knowing we belong with the better teams in the region and fully confident that we can compete against anyone.”