Fall season concludes at Invite
The Rutgers tennis team concluded its fall season this weekend at the ITA Northeast Regional Championships at Harvard.
Four Scarlet Knights were selected to compete in the singles draw at the regional tournament, which was the most in program history.
Head coach Ben Bucca was disappointed with the draws the team received, but proud of the way his players fought.
“We went up [to Harvard] and played to our skill set, got a tough draw and we had a couple wins and a couple losses,” Bucca said. “We’re glad we played to our capabilities at a very difficult tournament, and we leave [regionals] knowing we’re up there with the best teams in the region.”
Sophomore Mariam Zein and junior Lindsay Balsamo both made the qualifying draw, with Zein defeating Connecticut’s Emma Alderman, 6-4, 6-3, in her first match. She then fell to Stony Brooks’ Nadia Smergut.
Balsamo dropped her first match in the qualifying draw to Fairleigh Dickinson’s Shreya Pasricha.
Senior Vanessa Petrini and sophomore Gina Li automatically qualified for the main draw. Petrini has had previous success in the tournament, reaching the regional semifinal two straight years.
But this year’s round of 32 was not kind to Petrini, as she fell to Harvard’s Amy He, 6-4, 7-5.
Assistant coach Hilary Ritchie was proud of the way Petrini competed this weekend.
“Vanessa has had a really good showing the past couple years and I know she really wanted to repeat that,” Ritchie said. “She lost on Sunday, but it wasn’t due to her performance. I just think she ran into a really tough competitor that was having a good day.”
Bucca added the layout of the tournament did not help Petrini’s cause.
“She really played well and should only feel proud about her performance,” Bucca said. “Her first-round opponent was a top-30 recruit in the country and that match ended at quarter of 11 at night. Then she had to wake up the next morning and do it all over again against another top-30 recruit in last year’s freshman class. Against high-level [opponents] that is not easy to do.”
Li dropped her first singles match to Brown’s Dayna Lord, 7-6, 6-2. Lord is still competing in the championships at the quarterfinal stage.
Ritchie understands how difficult it is to produce at the regional championship because of the high level of competition. With more than 100 competitors from 33 schools, it is a good measurement to comparatively judge the Knights against other regional foes.
“I think everything went well,” Ritchie said. “It’s really high level competition up at regionals, especially once the main draw starts, so it’s really good to see where the region is at, and see where our ladies stack up against the rest of the competition.”
All four players also competed in the doubles draw at the regional championship. Li paired with Zein, while Petrini and Balsamo competed together.
Li and Zein won their first round match, 8-5, against Boston University’s Kim McCallum and Lauren Davis before dropping their next match to Harvard.
The Crimson continued their success against the Knights, as the pairing of June Lee and Amanda Lin downed Petrini and Balsamo, 8-2, in the first round of the championship doubles draw.
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