Spring season provides momentum for fall

Tennis Second Round Tournament Exit Provides Experience

After a 14-9 overall and 8-4 record in the Big East last season, the Rutgers tennis team is anticipating an even better one this fall.

While there are not as many fall matches, head coach Ben Bucca believes the Scarlet Knights’ improvements last season should carry into a strong season ahead.

“Last season left a good taste in everyone’s mouth,” Bucca said. “We are very energized, very positive and excited to start the season.”

The Knights played well last spring, when they reached the Big East Championships. Rutgers fell in the second round 4-0, to Marquette.

“We played some really good tennis at the Big East Championships,” Bucca said. “We put forth our best effort and although disappointed, we had that inner satisfaction that we played our best.”

The Knights have high expectations this year, which include navigating through a tough schedule.

Fall competition includes Boston College, Boston University and Brown. All three squads finished in the top 10 at the end of last season’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast region rankings.

Rutgers will start the season with a warm-up exhibition match at home Sept. 11 against NJIT before heading from Sept. 20-23 to the Brown Invitational in Rhode Island. They will also travel to Flushing, N.Y., from Oct. 11-13 for the U.S. Tennis Association Invitational.

The Knights conclude their fall season from Oct. 17-21 with the ITA Regional Championships.

One player to watch is senior Vanessa Petrini, who ended last season with an 11-10 overall record at the first singles position. Petrini also became the first player in Rutgers history to make it to the semifinals of the ITA Regional Championship singles draw two consecutive years.

Standout sophomore Gina Li will look to continue her dominant freshman campaign. She posted a 16-5 overall record, including a 9-1 mark in the conference at the number No. 2 spot.

Li highlights a youthful core of players on a team that will return all of its members from last season.

“We have transformed into a team that now has real Division I tennis experience.” Bucca said. “That will be a real advantage for us this year.”

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

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