Injuries plague Knights’ fall debut in Providence
The Rutgers tennis team completed its first tournament of the season last weekend in Providence for the three-day Brown Invitational.
Head coach Ben Bucca feels a lot of positivity can be drawn from the weekend’s grueling action.
“The weekend was exhausting,” Bucca said. “There were a lot of matches to be played and they were all pressure-filled, so we were rightfully very fatigued at the end of it all. This team really worked hard these past three weeks preparing for this tournament, and it really showed.”
Assistant coach Hilary Ritchie agreed the Scarlet Knights played well under difficult circumstances against top competition.
“I think the team performed really well, this is always a big test,” Ritchie said. “It tests our stamina more than a typical match because it is three consecutive days, with multiple matches in each day, so it takes physical and mental toughness as well.”
Freshman Farris Cunningham was forced to exit her first college competition with an ankle injury. But she was able to reach the finals of the Blue Singles Flight. Before withdrawing, she dropped her first set, 6-2, to champion Annie DiMuro of Binghamton.
Junior Lindsay Balsamo reached the finals of the Black Singles Flight draw before dropping identical 6-1 sets to Binghamton’s Sara Kotz. Balsamo teamed up with sophomore Mariam Zein to make it to the finals of the Eagles Double Flight draw against Alana Prinos and Jennifer DeLuca of Providence, but lost, 8-6.
Bucca notes the team can learn a lot from the tough competition.
“Year after year, it is reaffirmation that we belong with the elite teams in the region,” Bucca said. “This is a tournament where there are some teams that play at a higher level than we do, so we were excited that we got some really good victories. The more you compete, the better you get at competing.”
Along with Binghamton, Rutgers faced Boston College, Boston University and Brown, which respectively ended last season third, seventh and 10th in the ITA Northeast Region Rankings. Other competing teams included Providence, Buffalo, and Massachusetts.
Senior Vanessa Petrini, junior Noor Judeh and sophomores Gina Li and Lindsey Kayati also competed in the tournament, with Petrini and Kayati pairing up in the Eagles Double Flight, as well.
Looking forward to the rest of the season, the Knights know how important this tournament was for them.
“We went into the weekend a little nervous and came out with some valuable experience,” Bucca said. “This year, with so many players returning, we feel like we don’t want to be complacent competitors — we want to be determined competitors.”
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