Rutgers finds success in fall season

<p>Junior’s Mariam Zein (left) and Gina Li (right) both had succesful seasons with the pair making it to the semi-finals at Regionals.</p>

Junior’s Mariam Zein (left) and Gina Li (right) both had succesful seasons with the pair making it to the semi-finals at Regionals.

With the fall season complete, the Rutgers tennis team now enters offseason mode as each member prepares for the spring.

The Scarlet Knights are looking forward to hard training during the winter months, but they will not forget their achievements, which included an impactful showing in the ITA Northeast Regional tournament.

“[Juniors] Mariam [Zein] and Gina [Li] getting to the semifinals [of Regionals] was definitely a high point,” said head coach Ben Bucca. “They didn’t just get a lucky draw, they earned it.”

Rutgers’ last tournament was the most prevalent of the season, and that was where Bucca’s team shined the most, in his opinion.

“This was a very productive season,” he said. “It created a positive dynamic and resulted in us playing our best tennis when it counted most. Team spirit was high, and we want to keep that for the spring.”

It was a record-setting season for Rutgers, which saw four of its players qualify for the main draw in the ITA tourney, but much work will still be done before February.

Similarly to what Rutgers did before its scrimmage against junior college powerhouse ASA College, each player will identify a strength or weakness in their game and work to improve it, Bucca said.

Zein, who had a good showing in single and doubles play throughout the season, knows what she will focus on during the winter.

“In the offseason, our strength training picks up a lot, so that will be a big focus,” she said. “We all pick one or two things we really want to focus on for the offseason practicing. So for me, I want to work on my serve and forehand, so I think working on all those things combined will really help my game stay strong for the upcoming spring season.”

In addition, Bucca will meet with his team and do something he has done in each year as head coach.

“We will also sit the team down in order to create a mission statement,” he said. “[It’s a] very effective exercise in showing how they want to represent themselves.”

Improving on specific facets of tennis, getting stronger and collaborating on a team mission statement would all be crucial this time around as Rutgers trudges through the offseason.

Aside from seeing some of the same opponents they saw throughout the fall, the spring season will mark something else for the team.

“We’re going to start offseason training soon, and it will be the perfect time to work on our fitness and specific aspects of our game to get us ready for the Big Ten,” Li said.

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

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