Duo falls in semifinals of ITA

Highlighted by a deep run in doubles action, the Rutgers tennis team demonstrated through the course of five days at the ITA Northeast Regional Tournament that the program is one to be reckoned with.

The duo of juniors Gina Li and Mariam Zein particularly saw their efforts pay off by advancing all the way to the semifinals, where the two fell to Harvard 2-6, 6-3, 0-1 (9) after a tiebreak to move on to the final match.

Still, the Scarlet Knights were pleased with the end results.

“Congratulations to both Mariam [Zein] and Gina [Li] for a fantastic tournament,” said head coach Ben Bucca. “The regional championship is the time to play your best tennis, as we are competing against top opponents from the Northeast region.”

Bucca continued his praise for the combination of Li and Zein.

“It was great to watch both Mariam and Gina play such high-level tennis and compete so effectively,” he said. “Although they only came up a few points short of the victory, the entire program is very proud of their effort and their accomplishment.”

Li in particular was surprised at how she and her teammate gelled throughout the tournament and attributes her success in Regionals to believing in her skills.

“It feels really great to have made it so far in the regional tournament. … We played some of our best tennis this fall,” she said. “We exceeded our own expectations and beat some of the top teams in the region. We played high-energy tennis and gained a lot of confidence throughout the fall season that I’m hoping will translate into the spring.”

Though Zein and Li as partners proved their worth in doubles competition, singles play for Rutgers was not bad either.

With four players — Li, Zein, junior Lindsey Kayati and freshman Chloe Lee — advancing to the main draw, it marked the highest amount of players to compete in that phase of competition in program history.

Zein was able to advance to the second round before being eliminated by a member of Stony Brook 4-6, 5-7.

Despite “having butterflies,” Lee moved on to the second round as well in her first-ever regional tourney.

“I obviously started out a little nervous,” she said. “All the best players in the entire region are there, and it was my first time, so it did take me some time to get settled in. However, when you play those matches, it is what you have been practicing for and preparing for, so I gained some confidence from that.”

The newfound confidence from playing in Regionals will help the first-year player and her teammates when the spring season begins in February.

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

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