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Strong singles play leads to road win

A string of strong performances lifted the Rutgers tennis team to a hard-fought road victory Sunday at AAC rival Cincinnati, 4-3.

The win came two days after the Scarlet Knights’ (4-3, 1-1) lost a tough match against Louisville, 6-1.

Sophomore Lindsey Kayati holds the team best for a singles matches after she improved to 6-1 following a strong win against Cincinnati’s Katya Bure by a score of 6-1, 6-3.

She credits her strong performance to the motivation that her teammates provided her.

“Even if they were three or four courts down from me, I could see the whole team fighting hard and refusing to quit even if they were down,” Kayati said. “Being able to see that really motivated me to work hard and win my match as well.”

Freshman Farris Cunningham dominated her singles match, beating Bearcat Carly Wilson 6-0, 6-0.

Regardless of her opponent, Cunningham maintains a consistent strategy.

“Play my game,” Cunningham said. “It comes down to being confident and hitting my shots.”

Cunningham won both of her doubles matches this weekend as she was paired with senior Vanessa Petrini.

“In doubles, Vanessa and I had to stay consistent but also be aggressive, which is why we were able to win both matches,” Cunningham said.

In her singles match, Petrini pulled out the decisive victory for the Knights.

She lost her first set, 2-6, before winning the second set, 6-2.

In the tiebreaker, Petrini got down early, 2-3, before rattling off four-straight points to win the match and earn the tiebreaking point for Rutgers.

“I struggled at the beginning of my match but I knew that I had to collect myself and step my game up for my teammates since I was the last deciding match,” Petrini said.

Head coach Ben Bucca was extremely proud of how the Knights played from top to bottom.

“Well there were obviously certain players who played better than others, but this was an overall team victory for us,” Bucca said. “Every single person brought extremely high energy for our team to help us win.”

Even though the team is excited over the recent victory, Bucca explained that Rutgers has much to work on as it prepares for Saturday’s road match against Cornell.

“We had a team discussion after the match and we know that we definitely have some things that we need to work on,” Bucca said. “Some of those things include put-away shots and approach shots. Once we make those minor adjustments, we’ll be fine.”

The next few weeks provide the opportunity for the Knights to maintain success and keep the strong momentum going for the rest of the season.

“This weekend was crucial leading into our next few matches,” Cunningham said. “We now know that we can win the close matches. Our energy is at an all-time high and we just need to stay positive, play our game and continue to work hard. I think the results will follow accordingly.”

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

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