Doubles pairings prove key to team’s winning streak
The Rutgers tennis team earned a decisive 6-1 victory against Binghamton (2-6) on Friday at the East Brunswick Racquet Club.
A three-game winning streak gives the Scarlet Knights an impressive 6-3 record as they begin the stretch run of the season.
Rutgers started off hot by dominating the doubles matches. Head coach Ben Bucca said he made some adjustments after its 6-1 loss Feb. 21 to Louisville, and it has made a big difference considering the Knights have not lost since that match.
“After our last loss [at Louisville], I changed up the doubles pairings and the girls worked very well together,” Bucca said. “The girls came out and played very strategic and sound tennis.”
The new pairings were senior Vanessa Petrini with sophomore Lindsey Kayati, junior Lindsay Balsamo with sophomore Mariam Zein and senior Stefania Balasa with sophomore Gina Li.
Balsamo felt that it was important to win the doubles matches to give them the edge they needed.
“Our strong doubles play really set the tone for the rest of the match,” Balsamo said. “I feel like we’ve just continued to gain so much confidence in our last two matches.”
The team stresses the importance of gaining the doubles point in every match, and it often pays dividends. The Knights are now 5-0 this season when they win the doubles point.
Rutgers is peaking at just the right time with one more home match against Delaware, before a trip to New Orleans during spring break where they play three more matches.
Petrini, who has played extremely well of late, felt there were specific reasons that her team won so easily.
“We stayed focused and aggressive during doubles and played extremely strategically,” Petrini said. “I think our strategy helped us win so decisively.”
Kayati won her singles match and improved her record to 7-2 on the season, which leads the team. Petrini, Li, Balasa and Balsamo also won singles matches for Rutgers.
The team’s confidence has it looking forward to making a run during the conference championships, even this early into the season.
“I have high hopes and expectations for us to do well in conference play and in the conference tournament,” Petrini said. “I expect us to perform very well because we’ve been practicing and playing very well lately.”
With a 6-3 record, Bucca would not exactly say this team is the best team he’s ever coached, but he sees limitless potential.
“It’s still very early in the season, but I love how disciplined this team is,” Bucca said. “I tell them all the time that if they continue to put in the hard work that they’ve been doing so far, then this will be a very rewarding season for us in the end.”