PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Sept. 12, 2012) – The Rutgers tennis team competed in a scrimmage with NJIT on Wednesday afternoon at the Rutgers Tennis Complex. Scores were not kept and the exhibition was geared towards individual play, with singles and doubles matches taking place between the two squads.
“We had a beautiful day for competitive tennis today. We played a strong opponent and at this early stage of the season, we demonstrated some strong tennis,” said head coach Ben Bucca. “Although scores were not kept, we definitely won the majority of the matches.”
The team compiled 13 wins last spring and a spot in the BIG EAST Championships. Rutgers is still scheduled to compete in three tournaments and one away match this fall. The squad returns five players from the spring 2012 roster and has added three freshmen. The team does not have any seniors, and is led by juniors Stefania Balasa (East Brunswick, N.J.) and Vanessa Petrini (Stamford, Conn.).
“With such a young team, this speaks volumes for the continued success of Rutgers women’s tennis,” said Bucca.
Balasa compiled a 13-9 record last season, including 8-2 in the BIG EAST. Petrini matched Balasa’s win total, going 13-8 with a 6-4 record in the conference, while also being named to the All-BIG EAST Women’s Tennis Team. Sophomores Lindsay Balsamo (Wall, N.J.), who went 13-7 overall and 8-2 in league play, Noor Judeh (Potomac, Md.) and Satreethai Sasinin (New Brunswick, N.J.) are also key returnees.
The newcomers include Lindsey Kayati (Monroeville, N.J.), Gina Li (Hillsborough, N.J.) and Mariam Zein (Sugarland, Texas). Li and Zein were named 2012 National High School Tennis All-Americans by the National High School Tennis All-American Foundation (NHSTAAF). A Hillsborough, N.J., native, Li was the Somerset County singles champion, First Team All-County, First Team All-group IV and Second Team All-State. Zein won the Texas 5A girls singles title. Kayati, who hails from Monroeville, N.J., was the final member of the 28th-ranked recruiting class nationally according to Tennis Recruiting Network’s 2012 Winter Rankings.
The Highlanders came to “The Banks” after finishing the 2012 season with a 21-3 record, including a 14-0 mark at home. They returned a lot of talent, including Monika Graff (23-4 in 2012), Jana Luste (20-3) and Caroline Zanotta (23-4). NJIT is coached by Mike Sowter.
The match was a “Red Alert” contest. For every student-athlete that was in attendance, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) donated one dollar to the Challah Foundation, founded in 1994 by Dr. Michael J. Nissenblatt to create a sense of spirit, human compassion, resilience and motivation. Through the foundation, volunteers deliver bread weekly to cancer patients at Robert Wood Johnson University and Saint Peter’s University Hospital.
“To add icing to the cake, we were able to make a donation to the foundation, which is a community service our program has been involved in for the past 10 years,” said Bucca. “We especially want to thank all student-athletes and coaches who came out for the match. It was a special treat for our players to showcase their talent in front of their peers.”
The squad will be back in action at the Brown Invitational, hosted by Brown University, in Providence, R.I., from Sept. 21-23.
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