Tennis: Knights face pair of struggling rivals

<p>Vanessa Petrini competes in the No. 1 position this weekend for Rutgers as it tries to sweep wins against conference foes.</p>

Vanessa Petrini competes in the No. 1 position this weekend for Rutgers as it tries to sweep wins against conference foes.

The Rutgers tennis team takes its four-match winning streak on the road this weekend when it faces West Virginia tomorrow and Pittsburgh on Sunday in back-to-back outings.

The Scarlet Knights (6-2, 3-0) have played well since their Feb. 16 shutout against Princeton.

With wins against both programs last season, it would not be a stretch for Rutgers to continue its current streak.

“We have had some recent success against both of these teams, but we need to bring the same energy and focus we’ve brought to the last few matches to be successful,” said head coach Ben Bucca.

Rutgers needs to continue its strong all-around play for a chance at a weekend sweep.

Junior Vanessa Petrini leads for the Knights as the No.1 singles player. Petrini’s 6-2 record in singles actions proves her value.

Freshmen Gina Li and Lindsey Kayati have been solid so far in their first seasons with a combined record of 13-2. Li is also leading the team in wins with seven.

Sophmore Lindsay Balsamo puts her four-match winning streak on the line along with Li and Kayati, who both have their own four-match winning streaks.

West Virginia (2-7) is coming off a win against Marquette to break a six-match losing streak. This will be the final match before the Mountaineers embark on their Big 12 schedule.

Despite a losing record in both singles and doubles, West Virginia has some strong players in its lineup.

Hailey Barrett and Ikttesh Chahal are on a two and three-match win streak, respectively, in singles play, and both are the top doubles pairing for the Mountaineers.

The No. 2 doubles pair of Emily Mathis and Audrey Wooland is 6-3 together.

Pittsburgh (4-5, 0-2) dropped three of its last four matches and will face Cornell tomorrow before playing Rutgers the following day. The Panthers have a solid records in both singles and doubles, with a 31-23 record in singles action.

Rutgers will need to navigate the back ends of both Pittsburgh’s singles and doubles lineups successfully if it wants to win this match.

Pittsburgh has mixed up its singles lineup all season, a move that has worked because their four through six spots are a combined 21-6, including a 9-0 record from its No. 6 position.

The Panthers have played well in doubles competition and have relied on the strong play of their No. 2 and No. 3 doubles pairs.

Amanda Wickman and Molly Wickman are 7-2 this season, while Kimmy Borza and Gabrielle Catanzarit are both 8-1.

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