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Knights aim to avenge last season’s loss with new pairings

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A tough loss to Delaware last year has the Rutgers tennis team motivated to bounce back this season.

The Blue Hens (3-3) beat the Scarlet Knights (6-3, 1-1 AAC) by a score of 4-3 in 2013.

“They played us over well last year so we’ve got to come ready to play,” said head coach Ben Bucca. “They have the same lineup as last year, so we just have to focus on controlling what we can control and we’ll put ourselves in good position to win.”

Despite Delaware’s .500 record, sophomore Lindsey Kayati understands that it is a solid opponent that cannot be taken lightly.

“There’s no doubt that they’re a good team,” Kayati said. “But the beauty of sports is that anything can happen so as long as we play confidently, I know we’ll be able to pull this win out.”

A win for the Knights would put them at 7-3 entering their spring break matches in New Orleans.

After Rutgers’ last loss Feb. 21 against Louisville, Bucca said they hoped to be in the exact position they’re in now.

“We really wanted to win our next four matches and go into spring break with a 7-3 record,” Bucca explained. “This would really fulfill our mini goal this season and give us the confidence that we need moving forward.”

A win today seems probable based on the way Rutgers has played lately.

Three straight wins against respectable squads in Cincinnati, Cornell and Binghamton have put the Knights on the map and forced other teams to take notice of their success.

Since Bucca has switched up the doubles lineups, his team has not lost a match.

The pairings of senior Vanessa Petrini with Kayati, junior Lindsay Balsamo with sophomore Mariam Zein and senior Stefania Balasa with sophomore Gina Li have all contributed to the Knights’ strong form.

While most of the team remembers the disappointing loss that the Knights suffered to Delaware, one player does not.

“Since I’m a freshman, I don’t really know the history we have with Delaware so that makes me excited to play them,” said freshman Farris Cunningham.

Cunningham also talked about mental preparation for the match being key to performing well, while also staying positive for the rest of the team.

“I’m going to be doing the best I can for the team and I know that I’ll be in high spirits so they can feed off of that when on the court,” Cunningham said.

It will be important for Rutgers not to overlook this match in light of the exciting trip to New Orleans that awaits them during spring break.

They will be able to avoid that by focusing on the task at hand.

“I will make sure to compete hard like always and fight for every point in every game,” Kayati said. “I know I’ll bring my best tennis when it is needed most.”

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

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