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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.”
Sophomore Noor Judeh is one of seven Knights participating in the ITA?Regional Championships held in West Point, N.Y.
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 Lindsey Kayati lost in the finals of her doubles draw at the USTA Invitational.
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.
Freshman Mariam?Zein won her draw this weekend for Rutgers in the USTA?Invitational, becoming the first Knight to do so.
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.
Junior Stefania Balasa tied teammate Lindsay Balsamo for the best conference singles record, winning eight of 10 matches.
Junior Vanessa Petrini leads the Knights to Flushing, N.Y., the venue of their second tournament of the season and also the same stadium where the U.S. Open is held each year. With no seniors on the team, Petrini and classmate Stefania Balasa serve in leadership roles.
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.
Freshman Gina Li impressed head coach Ben Bucca in her first tournament at Rutgers, winning all three doubles matches.
Coming off a successful freshman season for the Rutgers tennis team, sophomore Lindsay Balsamo has even higher expectations of herself this season. The Scarlet Knights competed last weekend in the Brown Invitational, in which Balsamo won her singles draw and two doubles matches. “I was excited to do well against some good teams and good players,” Balsamo said. “I felt like I was playing well, especially for the first tournament.”
Sophomore Lindsay Balsamo won her singles draw last weekend at the Brown Invitational, the team’s first tournament since she went 13-8 in singles play as a freshman. Balsamo also played Nos. 2 and 3 doubles last year.
Competing against top-level competition, the Rutgers tennis team set out to prove it belonged this weekend when it participated in the Brown Invitational. The Scarlet Knights faced off against top teams in the region, including Boston College and Brown, which finished Nos. 4 and 7, respectively, last season in the Northeast Region final rankings. Binghamton, Boston University and Providence also competed in the tournament. The Knights put in a strong effort and came out successful, said head coach Ben Bucca.
Sophomore Lindsay Balsamo took first in her singles draw this weekend at the?Brown Invitational, the Knights’ first tournament of the fall campaign. Balsamo had Rutgers’ second-best singles record in the spring, when she went 13-7, including an 8-2 mark in Big East play.
Freshman Lindsey Kayati finished second this weekend in her singles draw and won two of three matches at Brown.
The Rutgers tennis team begins its tournament schedule this weekend when it competes in the Brown Invitational in Providence, R.I. The Scarlet Knights are one of six teams participating in the tournament, which includes Binghamton, Boston University, Boston College, Brown and Providence. Boston College and Brown each finished last year near the top of the Northeast Rankings. Head coach Ben Bucca is excited for the tournament, and feels the team is ready for the challenge.
Freshman Mariam Zein earns her first opportunity in tournament play.