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RU focuses on strengths entering second match of season

The Rutgers tennis team looks to extend its impressive start to the season Friday afternoon at 2 p.m., when it hosts Fairleigh Dickinson.

The Scarlet Knights opened their season with a commanding 7-1 victory over Lehigh on Tuesday evening at the East Brunswick Racquet Club.

The whole team performed strongly, including the team MVP last season — sophomore Gina Li — along with senior co-captains Stefania Balasa and Vanessa Petrini.

Rutgers (1-0) will use the win against Lehigh (1-2) as preparation against the Devils.

FDU (1-0) will be tough, according to head coach Ben Bucca.

“Fairleigh Dickinson is always a very strong team, so we’re expecting a very close match,” Bucca said.

Farleigh Dickinson is coming off a win of its own Saturday, beating NJIT, 5-2.

FDU executed well, as freshman Ksenija Tihomirova rallied to win her match and freshman Shreya Pasricha won in straight sets.

The Knights want to focus on their strengths and avoid getting caught up with their opponent’s wins and losses.

“We just need to concentrate on us and what we can do,” Bucca said. “The wins and losses will take care of themselves.”

Senior Stefania Balasa is optimistic entering Friday’s match, as she and her teammates look to continue their success.

“We had a great start against Lehigh, and the whole team is looking forward to keeping the momentum going with our matches,” Balasa said.

Rutgers has history with Fairleigh Dickinson that includes several competitive matches.

“I’m excited because we’ve played FDU in the past and we’ve had some good matches, so I think this will be good for our team this early in the season,” Balasa said.

Early in the season, Rutgers looks to build on its success from the fall, when it finished 13-7.

Bucca, entering his 11th season as head coach, led the team to five straight Big East tournament appearances.

After their home match against FDU, the team travels to Philadelphia to play Penn on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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

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