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RU upsets Black Knights, sweeps singles matches

<p>Junior Lindsay Balsamo lost the second doubles match Sunday against Penn, but rebounded well by winning her singles match.</p>

Junior Lindsay Balsamo lost the second doubles match Sunday against Penn, but rebounded well by winning her singles match.

The Rutgers tennis team delivered a 6-0 upset victory against Army on Sunday in West Point, N.Y., which was the first loss of the season for the Black Knights.

The Scarlet Knights improved their record to 3-1 on the season while Army dropped to 6-1.

Rutgers came out of the gate firing as it won two out of the three doubles matches before winning five of six singles matches, with one ending in a no decision.

The tandem of sophomores Lindsey Kayati and Gina Li won the first doubles match against Elle Taylor and Della Taylor by a score of 8-4.

Senior Vanessa Petrini and freshman Farris Cunningham won the final doubles match over Margaret Illiev and Carly Riney, 8-4.

“My doubles partner, Farris, and I played very convincingly in our match,” Petrini said. “The key was that we didn’t make too many mistakes and took charge of our leads when we had them.”

Petrini has proven to be a key player for Rutgers as she has improved her doubles match record to 3-1 on the season.

She also won her singles match. Teammates Li, Kayati, senior Stefani Balasa and junior Lindsay Balsamo helped the Knights sweep those matches.

Balsamo lost the second doubles match of the day and admitted it was tough to rebound from the loss when she played in her singles match.

She struggled early in her singles match but finished strong.

“I lost the first two games quickly and realized that I had to start playing more aggressively and get back in control of the match,” Balsamo said. “Once I could get past that, I played very well and won the match.”

Head coach Ben Bucca understood how important it was to win the match because of how well Army had been playing.

“This was a decisive win against an undefeated Army team,” Bucca said. “The ladies came out and played strong, competent tennis.”

Regardless of the opponent, Bucca always stresses the same thing to his players before they step onto the court.

“We always focus on controlling how we play and not worrying about how the other team is playing,” Bucca said. “That’s been something we’ve been implementing into these girls’ heads here at Rutgers.”

That philosophy has helped provide a 3-1 record to start the season. The team is gelling by getting contributions from everyone on the team.

Petrini is thrilled by how well the team has played to start the season, and understands that she and her teammates need to continue bringing 100-percent effort to every match.

“Everyone is playing at a top level right now up and down the lineup, and I am definitely excited,” Petrini said. “We need to keep our energy up.”

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

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