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Singles play highlights win after slow start

A fourth-straight victory propelled the Rutgers tennis team to a 7-3 record on the season. 

The Scarlet Knights (7-3) outlasted Delaware by a score of 6-1 yesterday at the East Brunswick Racquet Club. 

Things did not look optimistic early for the Knights as they got off to a poor start by losing their first doubles match. 

“We really started off slow and lacked energy in doubles,” said head coach Ben Bucca.

Fortunately for Rutgers, the pairings of junior Lindsay Balsamo with sophomore Mariam Zein and freshman Farris Cunningham with sophomore Gina Li were able to salvage the doubles point by winning the next two matches.

“After the first doubles loss, we brought more energy to the matches and were able to pull out two victories to earn the doubles point and really give us the momentum,” Bucca said. 

It became clear to the Knights that they needed to step their game up after the slow start. They did just that by not only winning the doubles point, but also winning five of six singles matches. 

“We started off a little slow,” said senior Vanessa Petrini. “But we picked up our energy. Delaware played well but we overpowered them and played more strategically.”

Losing to Delaware last season added motivation for Rutgers.

“We were really hungry to win,” Zein said. “We won a decisive match against a team we lost to last year. We came out and played exactly how we wanted to.”

It was a total team win from top to bottom, as the entire match was a metaphor for the entire season. 

The Knights started a little slow, much like the team’s 3-3 start, but came storming back to win the next two doubles matches and five of six singles matches. 

The victory also pushed their home record to an impressive 3-0. Rutgers has played 70 percent of its matches on the road, but when it has been lucky enough to play on its own court, the Knights have taken advantage.

Next up on the Rutgers schedule includes a three-match trip to New Orleans over spring break. The matchups include foes Southern, Southeastern Louisiana and Tulane. 

The trip provides unique challenges for the Knights besides the travel itself.

“It’s a totally different dynamic,” Bucca said. “We’ve been unlucky enough to have to stay inside up here because of the lousy weather, but down there, we’ll be playing outside. Going from playing inside all season to going outside is big challenge that we’ll have to adjust to. We’ll just see what happens, but I know how confident the girls are so I’m not worried at all.”


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

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