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When Leonora Slatnick first joined the Rutgers tennis team, she never imagined her senior season would consist of rooting on her teammates as an assistant coach harnessed in a sling. After three years of competition in which the veteran held winning records in both singles and doubles play, Slatnick was ready to take on a leaderships role on the court during her final year. Shoulder surgery changed all of that.
Senior Jennifer Holzberg joined the Knights four years ago with Leonora Slatnick, who sits out her final season.
It is not often the outcome of a match is decided by the last contest. But that is exactly what happened in the Rutgers tennis team’s 4-3 victory Friday against Georgetown. With the score tied, 3-3, the Hoyas’ Tina Tehrani took sophomore Vanessa Petrini to a third set. The players went back and forth, resulting in a third-set tiebreaker. Petrini was then able to defeat Tehrani, 7-4, in the deciding set, which gave the Scarlet Knights their first Big East win of the season.
While Manasquan lies nearly 50 miles from Piscataway, it is the closest the Rutgers tennis team will come to playing at home for three weeks. The Scarlet Knights take on Georgetown today before competing in five matches away from New Jersey. The Knights travel to Milwaukee next weekend and then to Charleston, S.C., the following week for three matches. Before worrying about travel plans, head coach Ben Bucca wants his team’s focus on the matchup with the Hoyas.
Sophomore?Stefania Balasa, above, and teammate Noor Judeh fell, 9-7, last week in doubles against Syracuse.
The Rutgers tennis team traveled more than four hours this
weekend to start its Big East season. It returned to Piscataway
with a loss Sunday, as Syracuse dropped the Scarlet Knights, 4-3.
The Orange entered the conference opener with a four-match winning
streak before defeating the Knights — a stat head coach Ben Bucca
was well aware of upon arrival.
Sophomore Vanessa Petrini was the only Knight to win Sunday in
both singles and doubles in Rutgers’ loss to Syracuse.
Doubles play was a big factor Sunday in the Rutgers tennis
teams’ loss to Princeton. The Scarlet Knights started off
tentatively and slowly against the Tigers, according to head coach
Ben Bucca. Their first doubles pair of senior Jenifer Holzberg and
sophomore Vanessa Petrini dropped the match, 8-1, which set the
tone for the Knights in doubles action.
Sophomore Stefania Balasa, pictured, and freshman Noor Judeh
won, 8-6, on Sunday against their doubles opponents from Princeton.
Their victory was the only one Rutgers produced in doubles.
While shutouts have been commonplace for the Rutgers tennis
team, the Scarlet Knights ended up on the wrong side of one Sunday
against Princeton. The Tigers posted a 7-0 score that handed the
Knights their first loss of the spring season. They also served as
Rutgers’ first ranked opponent this year. Princeton entered
Sunday’s match ranked 51st after it defeated No. 41 Maryland the
With back-to-back victories against Lehigh and Fairleigh
Dickinson on the back burner, the Rutgers women’s tennis team’s
next three matches resemble the competition it will see once the
Big East season commences.Quinnipiac, owner of five consecutive Northeast Conference
championships, visits New Jersey tomorrow to kick off the Scarlet
Knights’ challenging weekend.
Sophomore Vanessa Petrini combined with Jennifer Holzberg to
down Lehigh, 8-4, last Thursday in doubles play.
Contributing as a freshman in any sport on the Division-I level
is a feat not many student athletes attain.For freshman Lindsay Balsamo, being a part of the Rutgers tennis
team has the rookie energized with the potential that lies ahead of
her.“It is really exciting,” Balsamo said. “I’m thrilled to be playing
and to be part of such a great team. It’s exciting to be
Senior Morgan Ivey competes in doubles with Lindsay Balsamo, a
freshman — a combination head coach Ben Bucca likes.
The Rutgers tennis team started the season the way head coach
Ben Bucca wanted: sweeping Fairleigh Dickinson University, 7-0,
Sunday to earn its second victory of the season. “This was a strong
and convincing win,” said head coach Ben Bucca in a press release.
“It reflected a high level of play on behalf of RU as Lehigh is a
well-coached, quality opponent.” The Scarlet Knights took all three
doubles matches against the Mountain Hawks.
Sophomore No. 4 singles Stefania Balasa won her match Thursday
at Lehigh in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0. Balasa also teamed up with
freshman Satreethai Sasinin in No. 3 doubles, defeating a
Mountain?Hawks duo, 8-0, in Bethlehem, Pa.
After nine years with the program, Rutgers head tennis coach Ben
Bucca knows it is up to the members of his team to set the goal of
the program this spring season. “Really we sit down as a team and
the girls set what the goals are,” Bucca said. “The goals are
multifaceted because they not only deal with athletic performance,
but also performance in the classroom and in the community.”
The fall season officially wrapped up for the Rutgers women’s
tennis team, but its hard work is far from over. For head coach Ben
Bucca and his team, the fall season certainly yielded successes for
the Scarlet Knights, including a historic run at the ITA regional
tournament. Sophomore Vanessa Petrini became the first player in
Rutgers history to reach the semifinals of the tournament.
The Rutgers women’s tennis team re-wrote some of its own history
this weekend at the annual USTA/ITA Division-I Women’s Northeast
Regional Championship. Sophomore Vanessa Petrini became the first
Scarlet Knight in program history to advance to the tournament’s
semifinals, where she lost to Yale’s Elizabeth Epstein in straight
sets. “What clearly distinguished her was her competitive spirit,”
said head coach Ben Bucca.
After a small break from competition last weekend, this week
shapes up as an eventful one for the Rutgers tennis team. Beside
their usual week of practice, the Scarlet Knights traveled to New
York yesterday to face Columbia in a scrimmage. The Knights hope to
use the experience on the court to strengthen their skills in every
aspect of their game. “We’ve definitely been focusing on a certain
pattern in regard to play, and we’ll look for that,” said head
coach Ben Bucca.