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Indoor meet offers chance to avoid poor conditions

<p>Senior co-captain Vanessa Petrini said that Rutgers’ success this season stems from remaining focused and playing hard early in the season.</p>

Senior co-captain Vanessa Petrini said that Rutgers’ success this season stems from remaining focused and playing hard early in the season.

Unfortunate weather throughout the season caused the Rutgers tennis team to face inconvenient conditions.

When the Scarlet Knights travel to play Seton Hall (10-7) this afternoon in Mendham, N.J., the weather will not play a factor. Originally scheduled outdoors in South Orange, the match was moved indoors to the Mendham Racquet Club.

The Knights (12-4, 3-1) only played one outdoor match besides their spring break trip. Their last home match that was scheduled for the outdoor courts had to be moved inside due to rain.

Despite the obstacles, the team is not concerned with where they’re playing.

“I think we have been doing a great job of adjusting to our conditions day to day,” said senior co-captain Stefania Balasa. “We have not had a consistent practice schedule outdoors, but we have been able to focus on our strategy in order to promote success for the rest of our season.”

The strong play of late for Rutgers has come at exactly the right time with the AAC Championships right around the corner.

Head coach Ben Bucca is optimistic about where the team is in the standings.

“This is where we want to be right now,” Bucca said. “We’re thrilled with the position we’ve put ourselves in. This is such an important stretch for our team and I know that our girls will continue to play confident tennis because of how well we’ve been playing. This is an experienced group of girls and they know what it takes to win consistently.”

Even with their impressive play of late, senior co-captain Vanessa Petrini does not feel as though the Knights are doing anything out of the ordinary.

“I wouldn’t call it a ‘hot streak,’” Petrini said of the team’s four-match winning streak. “We’ve just been playing hard and doing the same thing we’ve been doing all season … staying focused and playing sound tennis.”

Call it what you will, but the Knights’ play of late has performed well enough to be considered one of the favorites to take the AAC Tournament title.

Bucca does not feel like the team will feel any pressure as they go further down the stretch, though.

“I know that we’re just taking it one match at a time,” Bucca said. “I really don’t think we’re going to get handcuffed by any matches this season. We’re very confident right now and that will continue to carry us through for the rest of the season.”

Playing well does not seem to be an issue for Rutgers.

The Knights have performed well in any situation the weather has put them in, including playing in hot and humid outdoor matches in New Orleans over spring break.

That may prove beneficial when they have to play in similar weather in Tampa Bay, Fla., for the AAC Tournament.

Balasa agrees that Rutgers is not feeling any sort of pressure based on the way that they have played so well throughout the season.

“We are not focusing on being in big, pressure filled situations,” Balasa said. “We just need to keep focusing on playing our best and smartest tennis.”

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

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