Tennis: Rival Pirates round out home schedule

The Rutgers tennis team takes on rival Seton Hall at home today in what will be the second of back-to-back home games for the Scarlet Knights (11-7, 5-2).

Rutgers will attempt to rebound from a loss to Syracuse on Sunday in its last match. It will be the third game during the Knights’ important four-game Big East schedule to end the regular season.

Rutgers will look for motivation in its last home game of the season, and the Knights know how crucial their last two conference matches can be.

“I told our team that in tennis, like all other sports, the spirit that you bring to the match is essential,” said head coach Ben Bucca.

Seton Hall also enters with a loss in its previous contest. The Pirates’ (5-10, 2-3) last loss came against Connecticut, 5-2.

This is an opponent the Knights are stronger than on paper, so it is crucial for Rutgers that it goes as expected.

“We have to begin the match with high energy along with strong play throughout,” said junior Stefania Balasa.

Rutgers needs to build off strong play of the freshmen duo Lindsey Kayati and Gina Li, who currently have the best singles records on the team this season.

In doubles competition, Rutgers will rely on its top doubles pair in Li and junior Vanessa Petrini, who have an overall doubles record of 9-5 this season.

Freshman Mariam Zein has played well for Rutgers as of late and gained the Knights’ only point against Syracuse with a win in singles competition.

Rutgers’ main focus against Seton Hall is to just play its style of tennis. Bucca understands everything else is up in the air.

“Our focus is always on what we can control.” Bucca said.

This is the Knights’ final home match of the season — and with only one more match left after, a victory would do wonders to lead them into the Big East Conference Championships with momentum.

The match takes place at 1 p.m. at the RU Tennis Complex.

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