Young roster receieves leadership from senior

Every successful team needs players who provide leadership while encouraging the group to get better every day.

For the Rutgers tennis team, senior Stefania Balasa fills that role.

Assistant coach Hilary Ritchie talked about the value of having two seniors on the squad —Vanessa Petrini being the other.

“Being on such a small team, having seniors really makes a big impact,” Ritchie said. “Stef especially has been leading, for a while, and Vanessa has been playing high-level tennis at her position, so they both are very important.”

Balasa has led since her time at East Brunswick (N.J.) High School.

A four-year first singles player at East Brunswick, Balasa compiled at career record of 108-10, including a 20-3 record in her senior year. That season, The Star-Ledger named her Middlesex County Player of the Year. She also won the Greater Middlesex Conference first-singles championship all four years of her high school career.

Last season, Balasa recorded a 7-6 mark and a 4-4 record in the Big East at both fourth and third singles position. Balasa also teamed up with junior Lindsay Balsamo in third doubles and earned a 5-5 record.

Balasa and Petrini both helped Rutgers experience a strong spring season when it advanced to the second round of the Big East Tournament.

Off the court, Balasa was an integral part of Rutgers’ largest summer acquisition, new Athletic Director Julie Hermann.

“Stef is on the executive board for [the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee],” said head coach Ben Bucca. “[She] was also on the board for the committee for the search for the new AD. So she is definitely one of the role models for our team.”

Although currently injured, Balasa will cheer for her teammates this weekend when they travel to Providence, R.I. for the Brown Invitational.

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