July 18, 2019 | 74° F

Young team looks to build on year’s experience

Photo by Tian Li |

Freshman Gina Li wants to improve on a strong rookie campaign in which she went 16-5 overall and 9-1 in Big East play. She said a new recruit has the potential to positively change the team dynamic next year as RU aims to improve.

With no departing players from this year’s edition of the Rutgers tennis team, the Scarlet Knights want to improve on this season’s winning record.

The return of their full starting roster may be a recipe for success next year for the Knights.

But Rutgers will shift around players to different positions from where they were at this year. So although the roster will be the same, individual roles will differ, according to head coach Ben Bucca.

The Knights’ expectations will be high next year as they look to improve their overall record (14-9, 8-4). The team showed its ability to play successful tennis in its strong effort against Louisville in the Big East Tournament, and that level of play has motivated Rutgers going into next season.

“I don’t think I have ever had a match as strong as the Louisville match,” said junior Stefania Balasa. “As a team, if we can bring the same intensity as the Louisville match, we should do well next year.”

There is a chance the expectations for the Knights could improve even more with a strong offseason as the younger players continue to get acquainted with Division-I play.

Freshman Gina Li led Rutgers this year with a 16-5 record in singles play, including a 9-1 mark in conference action. The performance means that although she only has one season of collegiate action to her name, her production will be relied upon next year.

“I think that expectations change as time passes, so what our goals are now may not be the same next year,” Li said.

These will be difficult numbers to improve, but Li’s future looks promising after posting strong individual numbers in her freshman season. She will try to take the same approach as she did this year.

It will take a lot of hard work in the offseason for the Knights if they want to improve on this year’s season. It is important to rest for the time being, but once summer comes along it will be time for Rutgers to begin its preparations for an improvement on the court.

“I think if we put in the work in the offseason, it would make a difference for next year,” Li said.

The Knights are motivated and ready to build off the 2013-2014 tennis season.

“Our hopes for next year will be high,” Bucca said. “It will be a totally different team, and we will start from scratch next season.”

By Mike Kosinski

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