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Incoming freshmen, returning players give Knights confidence entering Big Ten

<p>Senior Lindsay Balsamo is the lone senior on a Rutgers team filled with several incoming freshmen.</p>

Senior Lindsay Balsamo is the lone senior on a Rutgers team filled with several incoming freshmen.

While highly regarded as one of the better college teams of the northeast region of the United States, the Rutgers tennis team will look to vault themselves as formidable competitors on a national level.

Both the squad and head coach Ben Bucca will have the opportunity by playing against Big Ten competition.

“It’s very exciting for us, developing new rivals and seeing new teams,” Bucca said.

One factor that could determine the fate of the Scarlet Knights this fall is senior Lindsay Balsamo.

Last spring season, Balsamo had an impressive record of 10-1 in singles matches and was voted the team’s most valuable player for her efforts.

Now the lone senior on a relatively young roster, Bucca is looking to Balsamo to provide the veteran leadership along with juniors Gina Li and Lindsey Kayati.

Although the upperclassmen look to help the team anyway they can, the incoming freshmen class also hope to provide a spark to the collective.

One of those freshmen Bucca mentioned was Chloe Lee.

In Albuquerque High School, Lee had an undefeated senior season in singles and doubles contests, winning a state championship and earning her place as one of the best players in the state of New Mexico and the U.S.

The other freshman to pay close attention to is Lee Levy, who has had an intriguing path to arrive at Rutgers.

Before coming to the United States, Levy lived in Hiafa, Israel, and served with the nation’s navy for two years before turning 18.

While serving for her country, Levy played tennis for Hey High School where she earned the title of No. 1 ranked female tennis athlete in the entire country.

Tomorrow the Knights will play in a scrimmage against interstate rival, New Jersey Institute of Technology.

“Looking forward to seeing the freshmen compete and for others to get back into competition mode,” Bucca said. “This will be the first step of many.”

After the scrimmage with NJIT — which will take place on Busch campus — the team will have nine days to prepare before heading north for the annual Brown Invitational on September 19.

The players will stay for three days.

Next month, Rutgers will participate in the Yale Invitational, before competing in the regional championships for a five-day stretch.

“Ultimately we stand for Rutgers, so we’re about doing things the right way,” Bucca said of the team's goals. “The process and preparation is more important than wins and losses, so as long as we prepare well, it will lead to wins.”

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

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