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After a relatively successful sophomore year, junior swimmer Mary Moser has come out strong and dominated the first half of the season for the Rutgers swimming and diving team. Moser has won six individual events for the Scarlet Knights this year. She has also played a role in Rutgers’ successful relay teams. Moser, who noticed a change in her swimming this year, attributes this improvement to a change in her training.
Following a successful freshman season at Marist College, sophomore swimmer Greta Leberfinger made the decision to return to New Jersey and transfer to the Rutgers swimming and diving team. Leberfinger’s freshman campaign for Marist was not short on accolades. She earned MAAC Swimmer of the Week honors three times, set individual school records and won several events at the MAAC Conference Championships. The success has followed her to Piscataway, where she has had an immediate impact for the Scarlet Knights.
With the conclusion of Saturday’s meet against Old Dominion and George Washington, the first half of the season and fall semester schedule also came to an end for the Rutgers swimming and diving team. The Scarlet Knights are out of action until Jan. 18, when they face off with Richmond and Central Connecticut State, and then James Madison the following day. But the Knights will not rest much during the long layoff. Following a short break for finals and the holidays, the team returns to Rutgers to continue training for the second half of the season.
Traveling on the road for the first time this season, the Rutgers swimming and diving team went to Norfolk, Va., on Saturday to compete against a pair of Beltway schools. They returned with two victories. The Scarlet Knights defeated Old Dominion, 170-120, and George Washington, 204-79.The decisive performance left head coach Phil Spiniello feeling positive about the team. “I’m happy that we walked away with two wins from the weekend,” he said.
The success freshman swimmer Joanna Wu has experienced may be surprising to some, but for Wu and Rutgers head swimming and diving coach Phil Spiniello, Wu’s freshman year is going exactly as planned. Wu began her rookie season by winning events in each of the Scarlet Knights’ first three meets. She has set several personal bests in the early stages this season, as well. “Joanna’s done a great job since the minute she walked into our program,” Spiniello said.
Through her first two years with the Rutgers swimming and diving team, junior diver Nicole Scott had already cemented a place in the program’s record books. She further entrenched her place in Rutgers history Nov. 18 — the final day of the Frank Elm Invitational — by breaking her own record on the platform dive. Scott posted a 269.70 score, breaking her own record of 251.95 she set her freshman year. Head coach Phil Spiniello was excited to see Scott’s performance at this point in the season.
Because of Hurricane Sandy, it has been three weeks since the Rutgers swimming and diving team competed against other schools. The hurricane caused the Scarlet Knights to cancel a Nov. 2. quad meet against Big East opponents. But the Knights finally return to the pool for competition today, when they host the Frank Elm Invite through Sunday at the Rutgers Aquatic Center. The Invitational, named after legendary Rutgers coach Frank Elm, features 12 teams.
A year after suffering a devastating shoulder injury, senior diving captain Katie Kearney continues to surprise herself and the Rutgers swimming and diving team’s coaches. After dislocating her shoulder last season, which resulted in a torn labrum and a torn shoulder capsule, Kearney was forced last April to have surgery. The procedure was originally supposed to keep her from diving until November. But she battled back and has returned stronger and quicker than her coaches imagined.
No one ever would have guessed three years ago that senior captain Taylor Zafir’s career would end up where it has. After a rough two years to start her career with the Rutgers swimming and diving team, which saw her redshirt her freshman year because of an injury, Zafir’s outlook on swimming changed with the hiring of head coach Phil Spiniello. “Looking back four years, there were times where I didn’t want to finish swimming and to be really truly enjoying it again, that’s what I’m most proud of,” Zafir said.
The Rutgers swimming and diving team entered the 2012-2013 season with momentum, breezing by the competition in its first two meets. The divers’ performance has been one of many bright spots for the Scarlet Knights early, winning every event they have participated in through the first two meets. All four of the Knights' divers — senior captain Katie Kearney, juniors Olivia Harry and Nicole Scott and sophomore Nicole Honey — have already qualified for the Big East Championships.
At the beginning of the fall season, it was unclear how the Rutgers tennis team would perform. With no seniors on the roster and only two juniors, the Scarlet Knights were mostly inexperienced. Despite their youthful roster, the Knights were successful during the fall tournament season. “The fall was very productive, and this team has really settled into a very well-functioning unit,” said head coach Ben Bucca. Rutgers displayed that productivity in all three major tournaments it competed in this fall.
Facing triple match point and down, 5-1, in the third set of the quarterfinals, Rutgers tennis team junior Vanessa Petrini was all but finished Sunday at the ITA Regional Championships. Then something rare happened, as she battled back from down, 40-0, winning the seventh game of a deciding set to bring the match to 5-2 against fifth-seeded Jessica Wacnik of Boston College. Petrini then rallied to win the next five games, winning the set, 7-5, and advancing to the semifinals of the tournament for the second straight year.
The Rutgers swimming and diving team splashed into action this weekend when it opened the season with the annual Sony Werblin Invitational. The Scarlet Knights played host to seven teams that traveled to the Rutgers Aquatic Center to participate in the event. The Knights earned 15 first-place finishes at the invitational, including winning all four relay events. The results have head coach Phil Spiniello feeling optimistic about the upcoming season.
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.”
It is rare in college athletics for a freshman to play immediately and find success, but the Rutgers tennis team has three rookies that have instantly contributed and won matches at top tournaments. “The freshmen are doing great,” said head coach Ben Bucca. “They’ve acclimated themselves very well within the team, and they’re playing very strong tennis.” Mariam Zein, Lindsey Kayati, and Gina Li made up the top-rated recruiting class in Scarlet Knights history and experienced success in their first two tournaments.
At the age of 13, Lindsey Kayati was diagnosed with epilepsy. Five years later as a freshman for the Rutgers tennis team, she is having a considerable deal of success on the court. Kayati was diagnosed with epilepsy after suffering a seizure while playing a match. It took some time for her to be able to manage the epilepsy on the court, she said. “It took a while, but finally I found the right dosage of medication that I have to take every day,” she said.
Freshman Mariam Zein made history this weekend for the Rutgers tennis team when it competed in the USTA Invitational in Flushing, N.Y. Zein became the first Scarlet Knight ever to win her singles draw at the USTA Invitational, where she defeated Brown’s Sarah Kandath, 6-2, 7-5, in the finals of the “E” draw. She went a perfect 4-0 for the tournament. “I felt really good about my performance,” Zein said. “In all my matches I came out really focused and confident and ready to win.
After two idle weeks, the Rutgers tennis team takes the court again this weekend when it travels to Flushing Meadows, N.Y., to compete in the USTA Invitational.The Scarlet Knights play for the first time since Sept. 23, when they participated in the Brown Invitational. Much like that tournament, the USTA Invitational is a collection of several teams from around the region competing in a singles tournament.
The experience sophomore Noor Judeh accumulated during her freshman year has eased her transition to this season. Judeh saw time last year for the Rutgers tennis team and uses that familiarity as a reminder for what she needs to accomplish. “[Coming in with experience] definitely made the process a million times easier because freshman year I had a really rocky start,” Judeh said. “I learned so much freshman year that made all the sense in the world this year because I knew what to expect, not just tennis-wise, but also mentally wise for what college tennis would be like.”
Freshman Gina Li is not short on accomplishments in her young tennis career. Li earned National High School Tennis All-American honors as a senior for Hillsborough High School (N.J.) before joining the Rutgers tennis team. “It was an honor because tennis isn’t one of the sports where you think that happens to people,” Li said, “but just being from my high school and getting that honor was really great.” Li was also a five-star recruit and the No. 3 player in the state coming out of high school, according to the Tennis Recruiting Network.