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Invite offers final preparation for year

Sept.19 is almost here — the date that marks the start of the regular season for the Rutgers tennis team.

After many days dedicated to conditioning, footwork, forehands and backhands in practice, the seven-girl team will face its first test tomorrow in Providence for the annual Brown Invitational.

Rhode Island, Boston College and host team Brown are the notable schools competing in the tournament. 

Despite the marquee opponents the Scarlet Knights will face from the Northeast, their goals and expectations have not weakened. 

Instead, they’ll base them on their performance at the Rhode Island-held invitational and beyond.

“I don’t think our goals have really changed, but this first match is a good start to know what we need to work on,” said junior Mariam Zein. “So our expectations will change going into our next matches because, obviously, they’ll be more competitive and higher spirited. We’re going to be playing against harder competition, so expectations will be higher, but I think our goals through the season will be to win a lot of matches.”

While Zein sees the invitational as an opportunity to correct mistakes to do better later on, others see it differently.

For members on the team like freshman Chloe Lee, it’s paramount to use the Friday tournament as a way to get on a hot start.

But she realizes that can be an arduous challenge and understands how plans may not come to fruition due to the nature of the game.

“Obviously, the first match really sets the tone for the season, so everyone hopes to play well,” Lee said. “We are all hoping for good results [on Friday] because that would really set the tone for the rest of the season.”

Getting off to a strong start would be ideal for the Knights.

One way to do this is to adjust to the recent rule changes regarding double-match play.

The NCAA implemented a new format this year. This season will not have an ad — advantage scoring — and only six matches will be played. In previous years, the structure called for an ad and eight games.

It will be a huge adjustment, according to some members of the team.

“I pretty much like and respect almost all aspects of the game,” said sophomore Farris Cunningham. “I think the new format for college tennis, no ad and only six games for doubles, is quite troubling. As players of this sport, we grew up playing with ad and to eight games in doubles, and we’re finding it both exciting and challenging to adjust to the new format.”

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

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