Rookie impresses despite ankle issue

<p>Senior Vanessa Petrini said Farris Cunningham impressed in her first college Invitational, where she finished in the final round.</p>

Senior Vanessa Petrini said Farris Cunningham impressed in her first college Invitational, where she finished in the final round.

Freshman Farris Cunningham has been a member of the Rutgers tennis team for only a short time, but everyone in the program, including senior captain Vanessa Petrini, has already felt her impact.

“I know she works really hard and she’s been very social in cheering the players on when she’s not playing,” Petrini said. “She’s doing great and I’m just really proud of her. I know she has a really bright future here.”

Cunningham impressed in her first college competition last weekend at the Brown Invitational. The rookie made the finals of the Blue Singles Flight against Binghamton’s Annie DiMuro.

Unfortunately for Cunningham, she sprained her ankle in the semifinals and was unable to play through it. She started the finals match, but only played in one set before she withdrew because of the injury. Cunningham dropped the set, 6-2.

The performance impressed head coach Ben Bucca.

“Farris, the day before the finals match twisted her ankle and was in a lot of pain and ultimately had to default,” Bucca said. “This was her first real competition, so I’m sure it was frustrating for her, but she played some great tennis.”

Cunningham was also pleased with her individual play.

“I played really well this weekend,” she said. “We’ve been working really hard these last few weeks, training, getting up early and practicing. It was good competition and it’s always nice to start out the season winning some games.”

Cunningham is no stranger to coming up in the clutch.

The Houston native led Duchesne Academy (Texas) to three straight Class 5A State Championships. During those three years, Cunningham also won the girls singles championship at the TAPPS Class 5A State Tennis Tournament three years in a row. In four matches on her way to the championship during her senior campaign, Cunningham lost only five games.

Cunningham knows adjusting to the east coast will not happen overnight, but she already feels comfortable because of the support from the Knights.

“I love my coaches. I love my teammates,” Cunningham said. “They’re being so helpful and they are making my adjustment here very easy.”

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