June 18, 2019 | 72° F

Knights split two in weekend action

It was a busy President’s Day weekend for the Rutgers tennis team.

The Scarlet Knights began it with a 7-0 loss to Princeton on Saturday, but bounced back in their Big East opener Sunday against the Cincinnati Bearcats, 4-3.

Despite being shut out the day before, Rutgers responded in its close victory against the Bearcats. Junior Vanessa Petrini set the tone for the match with a win in straight sets against Cincinnati’s Jasmine Lee, 6-0, 6-4. The Knights (3-2, 1-0) took a commanding 4-2 lead in the match behind wins from Li, Kayati and sophomore Lindsay Balsamo.

“I knew I was mentally and physically ready to play,” said Petrini, who is also 4-1 in singles play. “I knew I had to come out and set the tone.”

Head coach Ben Bucca believed the weekend was a major step for the program.

“Sunday was a major step forward for this young team learning how to win at the Division 1 level,” Bucca said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”

During Saturday’s loss, freshmen Gina Li and Lindsey Kayati forced tiebreaker sets in their respective singles matches before dropping both.

Kayati’s day was not finished, as she paired up with freshman Mariam Zein in the doubles competition.

The duo took the Tigers’ Katherine Flanigan and Emily Hahn to the last set but lost, 8-7, in their doubles match.

“We knew Princeton was good, and we just wanted to go out there and play our best tennis,” said Li, who is currently 4-1 in singles competition.

Rutgers will travel to West Point, N.Y., on Friday to play Army.

By Jim Mooney

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