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Captain strives for third ITA showing

Determined, hardworking and confident are just a few words the Rutgers tennis team coaches use to describe senior Vanessa Petrini.

But head coach Ben Bucca believes there is one trait Petrini possesses which separates her from the rest of the athletes.

“Vanessa’s strength as a tennis player is her competitive spirit,” Bucca said. “With every year she’s been here, she’s worked harder and harder on her game, and she has really evolved over the years.”

Petrini enters her final season with the Scarlet Knights and credits her teammates for enhancing her competitive traits.

“Everyone on the team has such a strong desire to win,” Petrini said. “We’re all huge competitors, we’re always trying to compete harder than each other. Every year I come back, I want to do better and better.”

Petrini has improved in each of the past three seasons she has been in the program. A state champion at Westhill (Conn.) High School, Petrini took control of the sixth singles position as a freshman. After one season, Petrini was able to move up to first singles during her sophomore season — a position she has held ever since.

Petrini’s career has been filled with competitiveness, including last season when she finished 11-10 at the competitive first singles spot and posted an 11-7 doubles record with freshman Gina Li.

Petrini has also accomplished something no one in program history has done — she reached the semifinals of the ITA regional individual championships two years in a row.

“She is a very determined athlete,” said assistant coach Hilary Ritchie. “She knows what she can do, and she’s one of those people that walks on the court and when she decides she wants to win, she gets it done.”

With a strong senior campaign, Petrini has an opportunity to be one of the most decorated in program history.

All she can think about is improving both herself and her teammates.

“I am hoping that I have a good individual season in the fall and do well at regionals like I have the past few years, and then in the spring come out and try to win a majority of my matches,” Petrini said.

Petrini will get her first taste of season action today, when Rutgers welcomes NJIT in an individual scrimmage.

For updates on the Rutgers tennis team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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