June 18, 2019 | 72° F

Knights desire marquee win against Ivy League opponent

Photo by Tian Li |

Junior Lindsay Balsamo said the Knights need to focus on improving issues they struggled with last weekend, where they went 1-1. Balsamo is 2-1 on the season in singles competition.

With a tough matchup against Cornell on the horizon, the Rutgers tennis team (4-3, 1-1) will try to make some adjustments this week in practice to prepare for tomorrow’s match in Ithaca, N.Y.

“We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the things that we struggled with last weekend,” said junior Lindsay Balsamo. “This is definitely a match we would like to win.”

A 4-3 start to the season is something head coach Ben Bucca is proud of. He feels the Scarlet Knights have played better than their record shows.

“Even though we only split our matches this past weekend, we played extremely well,” Bucca said. “Throughout the season we’ve played with positive spirits, and it has helped us play well.”

Cornell has a 2-2 record, but they have not played a match since Feb. 8. This may benefit the Knights, who have played five matches during that time.

Regardless of Rutgers’ record, Bucca knows better than to dismiss an Ivy League school as mediocre.

“Cornell, like all the Ivy League teams, is always strong,” Bucca said. “They’ll definitely be a test for us to see how improved we’ve gotten over the last few weeks.”

A nearly four-hour trip for Rutgers will put an end to its six-match road trip that began back on Feb. 9 against Penn. The Knights are 2-3 thus far on their stretch of road matches, with a win last Saturday bringing them back to .500 in away contests.

“Although this match is important for us to continue our winning ways, I would definitely not say it is a ‘must-win,’” Bucca said. “We just have to focus on what we do, and if we play better in our doubles matches and limit the unforced errors, then we’ll be in prime position to win.”

If the Knights can pull out a victory on Saturday, it would mark their first win against an Ivy League team this season. Two home matches against Binghamton and Delaware loom, and having a 5-3 record going into those contests would be reassuring for Rutgers.

With team morale high, it appears as if the Knights are poised to begin a winning streak.

Senior co-captain Vanessa Petrini has been very pleased with how much enthusiasm the team has played with and how successful they have been, but she is not satisfied with that alone.

“We need to keep winning and grab the momentum in our favor for when we go down to New Orleans for spring break, and for the remainder of the season,” Petrini said.

With some strong performances from top to bottom and fortunate bounces, the Knights could be well on their way to a successful stretch of matches.

For updates on the Rutgers tennis team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

By Nick Jannarone

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