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Knights exit invitational optimistic despite hurt senior

Besides senior Lindsay Balsamo injuring her groin after her first singles match, the Rutgers tennis team was able to leave the Brown University Invitational on Sunday knowing it was a success.

Although sustaining the injury cost her the opportunity to complete her slate of singles matches, Balsamo was able to play all three of her doubles, winning two of them.

Furthermore, she is confident the injury will not cause her to miss much time.

“I shouldn’t be out too long,” Balsamo said. “I am already starting to feel better.”

Still, playing against some of the more competitive teams in the Northeast region, the Scarlet Knights proved they have the talent to do well in the fall.

“Everyone played strong, competitive tennis,” said head coach Ben Bucca. “I was pleased with how the team performed.”

While noting his level of satisfaction toward the team’s performance, there was one player who stood out to Rutgers’ head coach.

“Particularly, Mariam [Zein] played really well,” Bucca said. “She won two of her three matches in singles competition, while going 3-1 in doubles with Gina [Li].”

The rookies of the unit, Chloe Lee and Lee Levy were also able to replicate the rest of the team’s strong showing, which caught the rest of the Knights’ and the coaching staff’s attention.

Lee in particular was pleased with her performance in her first ever college tournament.

“The most exciting part about competing this weekend was probably winning my first singles match,” she said. “I went the first two days without a win, so being able to come through the last day and beat a really good player was very rewarding.”

Team morale is high, and the girls are buying into the coaching staff’s mantra of retaining the competitive spirit, but it will take that and more to consistently hang with the class of the Northeast.

Lee and Levy will have to continue their maturation process to the collegiate game, while sophomore Farris Cunningham and Zein must build on their strong showings in singles and doubles, respectively.

Obviously, having Balsamo healthy wouldn’t hurt either.

The Knights will attempt to keep their focus and remain healthy for their next tournament Oct. 10, which will be played at Yale University.

“Our mindset is now just to keep working hard,” Cunningham said. “These next few weeks, classes will be picking up and practices will become more intense. This is the time for us to come together as a team, work hard and believe our training will lead us to great competition at Yale.”

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

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