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Rutgers expect strong showing at Yale Invitational

<p>Junior Mariam Zein said she has been working on cross-court directionals in preparation for Friday’s tournament at Yale.</p>

Junior Mariam Zein said she has been working on cross-court directionals in preparation for Friday’s tournament at Yale.

In the days leading up to Friday, the Rutgers tennis team aims to parlay its strong showing against ASA in its tournament at its second straight Ivy League school invitational at Yale University.

Last Thursday’s scrimmage was good preparation for the Scarlet Knights, as they saw their individual and collective skills improve.

But the tournament will feature equally formidable competition that will test their ability to hone in those heightened skills.

“Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, Pittsburgh … all of those teams have had national rankings in the past,” said head coach Ben Bucca.

Due to the aforementioned universities’ status as upper echelon opponents, the Knights have focused on strategies employed while pushing themselves during practices, in addition to replicating their Thursday performance.

“One of the things we have been focusing on is doubles,” Bucca said. “The ladies have been really hitting the ball well lately.”

Another focus for Rutgers has been its play on the sidelines. An athlete is bound to hit a high percentage shot due to how difficult it is for the opponent to consistently cover that part of the court.

While the team has collectively keyed in on specific strategies and worked on shot selection, individual players have their own agendas in terms of what they each want to improve.

Before the scrimmage, each Rutgers player chose an aspect of the game they thought needed fortification.

Furthermore, many members of the team have stuck with what they each want to better in themselves.

Junior Mariam Zein described what she originally picked as a point of emphasis and how she has continued to perfect it in practice.

“I have been working on cross-court directionals and give 100 percent in practice, since that’s what it’s going to take for the tournament,” Zein said.

Giving maximum effort in practice on the surface is cliché, but it is something that is not executed as often as it should be for a lot of athletes, regardless of their talent level.

Moreover, it is the difference between a highly decorated athlete and one whose potential is wasted.

Zein also elaborated on another team goal, which is also simple but not easily done.

“Everyone’s goal is to stay out there longer and stay up on the baseline,” said Zein.”But each girl has her own individual goals as well.”

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

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