Tennis: RU regroups after tough trip

Riding a two-match losing streak from this past weekend, the Rutgers tennis team looks to get back on track today against Houston.

The Scarlet Knights (6-4, 3-2) are coming off a difficult road trip and look to regroup at home, while the Cougars (9-4) will be finishing up a road trip of their own.

“We just need to keep faith. We’re a talented team,” said head coach Ben Bucca about his team’s mindset going into the match. “This is a good opportunity to go out and try to play our best tennis.”

This could prove to be a tough task against a Houston team that has been playing well lately, winning three of its last four matches. The Cougars have received solid play all year from Maja Kazimieruk and Rocio Martin Fernand, who combine for 20-5 in singles play. As a team, Houston is 50-28 in singles matches.

Rutgers will need the strong play of freshmen Gina Li and Lindsey Kayati to continue. They are 15-4 in singles play, and Li’s eight wins lead the team. The Knights will also look to their No. 1 singles player, junior Vanessa Petrini (6-4), to set the tone for the match.

“Everyone on this team has a role — everyone is playing for one point and we have to do this together,” said Petrini about her team looking to get back into the win column.

The doubles point could be difficult for Rutgers to win against Houston. The Cougars are 20-9 in doubles matches, while the Knights are only 15-12.

Rutgers looks for Petrini and Li to keep up their strong play together. The duo is 6-2 together and has been solid playing in the No. 1 doubles spot.

Youth has been the Knights’ trademark, sporting no seniors and only two juniors. Petrini has been strong all season, but the Knights have had to wait for their other junior’s year to start because of a preseason injury.

Junior Stefania Balasa had been injured most of this season with a fractured wrist but returned to doubles action Sunday with a victory in her match against Pittsburgh with sophomore Lindsay Balsamo.

“I think it’s good that we don’t know much about the team, so we’ll have a fresh mindset coming into this match and it should allow us to get back to playing good tennis,” Balasa said of facing non-conference opponent Houston.

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