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Knights aim to bounce back on weekend trip

While a weekend filled with matches is nothing out of the ordinary for the Rutgers tennis team, this weekend features some unique challenges.

For one, it must travel to play Louisville and Cincinnati, which are not exactly a short drive away.

Because of this, the Scarlet Knights left Thursday before their Friday match.

“We have to travel Thursday, so that’s going to be a long day but we’re going to try and rest up as much as we can before heading into Friday and Sunday’s matches,” said senior Stefania Balasa.

Resting up will be key for the Knights as they are coming off their second loss of the season to put them at 3-2 thus far.

They will face a strong Louisville team on Friday that has posted a 5-2 record to start the season and a 3-6 Cincinnati squad.

More importantly, these two matches will be the first conference opponents Rutgers faces this season, so beating them will be imperative to put the Knights in a good position for the AAC Championships.

Losing to a bitter rival like Princeton can be tough for any team, but these players are not worried and are just focused on taking care of business this weekend.

“I don’t think this loss will affect us negatively,” Balasa said. “We just have to take away the good from the match and use it to our advantage this weekend. Hopefully, we’ll be able to win these two games which I think we deserve because of how hard we’ve played lately.”

Head coach Ben Bucca knows how crucial these next two matches will be and understands that being on the road will be a test he feels his team can handle.

“Louisville and Cincinnati are conference opponents and they’re both strong teams,” Bucca said. “They’ll have the advantage because they’ll be home and won’t have any long travel plans.”

He also knows that his team is feeling a little let down after the loss, but does not doubt its ability to comeback with some wins this weekend.

“Obviously the ladies are disappointed. We’re so close to a national ranking and I think we can get there if we keep playing well,” Bucca said. “The Princeton loss will be easy to overcome because these girls know how to bounce back easily.”

If Rutgers can put together a solid weekend of tennis and come away with a couple of victories, it will provide some momentum. Following this weekend, two of the next three games will be at home.

Remaining upbeat will be key for the rest of the year, according to senior Vanessa Petrini.

“We have to keep pursuing this season with a positive attitude,” Petrini said.

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

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