The Ohio State women’s tennis program continues to build steam after making appearances in the last four NCAA tournaments and places third in the Big Ten the last three years. Last season the team recorded 19 wins, the most in program history. With a large roster and a lot of experience, all signs point to progress for this up and coming team.
Head coach Chuck Merzbacher is looking forward to intrasquad competition to be a driving force behind his team this season. Numbers and talent will prove beneficial as the student-athletes compete for positions in the lineup. With the assistance of coach Frank Polito, the 2002 ITA Midwest Region’s Assistant Coach of the Year, the Buckeyes look to rival opponents in the Big Ten and on the national level.
Merzbacher will have the task of replacing Monica Rincon, who served the Buckeyes well in her four years as she made two trips to the NCAA tournament, once in singles and once in doubles. The All-American recorded the second most wins in program history. Upperclassmen Erica Fisk, Sadhaf Pervez and Michelle Matko will be looked upon to fill the void. Two experienced transfers and several underclassmen will add to the competition during practice and once team play begins.
Backed by Experience
Coming off a great summer, Sadhaf Pervez (Sr./Warren, N.J.) will provide leadership in her final year. She was named the ITA Female Summer Circuit Player of the Year as she claimed the singles title at ITA National Summer Championships. As a Buckeye, Pervez has recorded three-consecutive 20-win seasons. Last year she posted a record of 21-12. Pervez is looking forward to her senior year of competition and enters the year No. 5 in the Ohio State record books with 72 career wins. Erica Fisk (Jr./Indianapolis, Ind.) made an appearance on the national level last year and finished the season ranked No. 101. She posted her second 20-win season last year with a record of 22-15. With a strong offseason, she should be one of the best players in the Big Ten while striving for an invitation to the NCAA tournament in singles and doubles.
Still plagued with injuries, look for Michelle Matko (Sr./Aurora, Ill.) to top the lineup pending recovery from surgery last spring. A tough competitor, she has dealt with injuries since her sophomore year. In her final season, Matko has a chance to move up in the Ohio State record books; she currently is No. 6 with 71 career wins.
Solidifying a Top 6 lineup may prove a difficult job with the team considering the size and talent of the squad. Lindsay Williams (Jr./Beverly Hills Mich.) has the capability to win at the top of the lineup while sporting a high caliber game. Last year, Williams had an outstanding 9-1 mark against Big Ten opponents and her career record is 35-18. Meaghan Colville (Jr./Toronto, Ontario) will continue to contribute in doubles while strengthening her singles play as well. Teamed up with Rincon, Colville played in the No. 1 spot in doubles last season. She complied an individual doubles record of 26-10 this past season.
Lindsay Bryan (So./New Orleans, La.) gained experience last year at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 and is ready to compete for a spot this season. Lindsey Adams (So./Mercer Island, Wash.), with her aggressive play and ball striking ability, will add firepower to the squad.
Taryn Bowen (Sr./Columbus, Ohio) is coming off a great summer. She will prove tough to beat while competing in dual matches and tournament play. Katherine Martin (Sr./Kennewick, Wash.) will provide depth and competition.
Jackie Leskovar (Jr./Cambridge, Ontario) may be new to the Buckeyes, but has experience at the No. 1 and 2 spot at North Carolina State, which plays in the very competitive Atlantic Cost Conference. Also out of the ACC, Emily DeCamilla (So./Sacramento, Calif.), a transfer from Maryland, has a good tennis foundation, is well coached and is a great addition to the program. Freshman Emily Howard (Akron, Ohio) has a great deal of potential coming from a solid high school background.
Ohio State will spend most of the 2002 season on the road. Of the 22 dual matches, 15 of them will be away. The squad compiled a 21-4 record at home over the last two years and will miss the home court advantage. The addition of two NCAA tournament qualifiers, Louisiana State and Central Florida, will bring the total up to seven scheduled for the season. The Buckeyes were 13-0 at the indoor Jesse Owens West Recreation Center last year, but then had trouble on outdoor courts on the road. This season, the team will travel south mid-March to gain outdoor experience earlier in the year, as the team did not have a chance to play in the south until May 10 at the NCAA Regionals in Knoxville, Tenn. This experience will prove useful in the later part of the season as Ohio State gears up for Big Ten play and the NCAA tournament, which will be held outdoors.