NJIT opens fall season for Rutgers

The Rutgers tennis team opens up its fall schedule today at 2 p.m. at the Rutgers Tennis Complex.

The Scarlet Knights will face the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders in a scrimmage that will focus on preparing the players for the upcoming season.

“There is no team scoring,” said head coach Ben Bucca. “It’s just about the kids being able to go out and compete against someone other than their teammates.”

The Knights will look to continue their success from a season ago, when they finished with a 14-9 overall record, including an 8-4 mark in their final season in the Big East. Rutgers made it to the second round of the Big East Tournament before falling to Louisville.

The squad returns seven players from last season including standouts, sophomore Gina Li and senior Vanessa Petrini.

Li will look to improve upon a strong freshman campaign in which she was named the team’s season MVP with a 16-5 overall record and an impressive 9-1 conference mark.

“Gina had a very strong singles record at the No. 2 singles position last season,” Bucca said. “I am sure she will be looking forward to building on that in her sophomore season.”

Petrini should provide some leadership for the crew, teaming up with Stefania Balasa as the two returning seniors. Petrini finished last season with 11 wins holding the first singles position.

“Vanessa, in these past few years, has really grown a lot as a person and I think the girls on the team really look up to her and her playing abilities,” said assistant coach Hilary Ritchie. “I think she helps elevate the level of our team.”

Along with Petrini and Li, the Knights return junior Noor Judeh and sophomore Lindsey Kayati, who had 10 and 13 wins, respectively, last season.

The Knights open up the season against in-state opponent NJIT for the second consecutive season. The Highlanders finished last season 15-6 in the Great West Conference and have a roster filled with five foreign players, including two from Brazil.

After the scrimmage, Rutgers will prepare for a trip to the Brown Invitational in Rhode Island on Sept. 20 and will face Boston College, Boston University and Binghamton.

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

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