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RU uses tournament to prepare for regionals

The Rutgers tennis team concluded its final tournament of the season before regionals this weekend at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center College Invitational in Flushing, N.Y.

The Scarlet Knights sent six representatives to face some of the top schools in the country. The field consisted of nearly 150 players and 19 other schools, including top regional rivals Harvard and Columbia.

Head coach Ben Bucca said the team learned a lot from the difficult competition in New York.

“It was a very rewarding weekend,” Bucca said. “The competition at the tournament was really tough, and we played some really good tennis. We were able to win 13 out of the 21 matches we participated in, and that speaks well to the level of play. ”

The players took advantage of the moment and were successful.

Senior Vanessa Petrini — the fourth seed in the first women’s draw — reached the semifinals of the Women’s Singles A Draw before dropping two sets to the eventual champion — Harvard freshman Spencer Liang, who held the top seed.

Sophomore Gina Li also made it to the semifinals of her Singles B Draw before dropping two sets to the other freshman from Harvard, Monica Lin.

Rutgers continued to face Harvard in the third Women’s Doubles Draw. The tandem of freshman Farris Cunningham and sophomore Lindsey Kayati made it to the semifinals against eventual winners Hannah Morrill and Sylvia Li of Harvard.

Bucca is satisfied the team played so well in this tournament and last month’s Brown Invitational, especially at the USTA.

“This is the tournament that best prepares us for the [ITA regional] championships,” Bucca said. “I think we’re in a much better place now than we were at the Brown Invitational. We played with a much more competitive nature this weekend. We now have much more experience after playing in two major tournaments.”

Overall, the head coach likes where the team is at entering into the regional tournament, which takes place Thursday to Sunday.

“We’re in a really good spot,” Bucca said. “Both of the two major tournaments have prepared us well because the caliber of play will be equal to caliber play at regionals. We’ve been able to win a majority of matches at both tournaments, and the team has worked very hard up to this point.”

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