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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 33rd-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (16-7, 3-4 Big Ten) fell to No. 26 Illinois (12-7, 6-1 Big Ten) on the road in Champaign, Ill., Saturday., 4-3

The Buckeyes won the doubles point before dropping the first three singles matches to fall behind 3-1. Wins from Paloma Escobedo and Kelsey Haviland tied the match at 3-all, leaving the No. 1 court to decide the team match winner. In a battle between ranked players at the top spot, Illinois’ Megan Fudge came away with a three-set win over the Buckeyes’ Kirsten Flower, clinching the five-hour match with a tiebreaker victory.

The Buckeyes took an early advantage after posting two doubles victories to earn the doubles point. At No. 2 Escobedo and Christina Keesey defeated the 51st-ranked duo of Leigh Finnegan and Fudge, 8-3. The Buckeye tandem has now won five-straight and holds a 7-0 record in conference matches.

Haviland and Cami Hubbs secured the team point for the Scarlet and Gray after an 8-4 victory against Chelcie Abajian and Rachael White on the first court. Illinois avoided the doubles sweep with Marisa Lambropoulos and Breanne Smutko’s 8-6 defeat of Ohio State’s Gabby Steele and Fidan Manashirova at No. 3.

Illinois would go on to win the first three singles matches, all in straight sets. Abajian downed Manashirova at No. 6, 6-1, 6-1. Smutko earned a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Keesey at No. 5, while Finnegan defeated Steele, 6-2, 6-3.

Ohio State stormed back to knot the score at 3-3 after Escobedo earned a straight sets victory of her own on court two, besting Lambropoulos, 6-2, 6-2. Haviland followed with a win over White, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, at No. 4.

Attention turned to the top matchup on court one between No. 69 Flower and No. 90 Fudge, with the winner of the match clinching a team victory. Flower took the first set, but Fudge answered with a victory of her own, sending the match into a third set. Both players battled, but neither could pull away before the third set was sent into a tiebreaker. Fudge found herself on the winning side of the tiebreaker and the match, taking the bout with a score of 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).

The Buckeyes look to bounce back as they travel to Bloomington, Ind., Sunday to face the No. 38 Indiana Hoosiers at 11 a.m. EST.

#26 Illinois 4, #33 Ohio State 3

Singles competition
1. #90 Megan Fudge (ILL) def. #69 Kirsten Flower (OSU) 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6)
2. Paloma Escobedo (OSU) def. Marisa Lambropoulos (ILL) 6-2, 6-2
3. Kelsey Haviland (OSU) def. Rachael White (ILL) 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
4. Leigh Finnegan (ILL) def. Gabby Steele (OSU) 6-2, 6-3
5. Breanne Smutko (ILL) def. Christina Keesey (OSU) 6-3, 6-3
6. Chelcie Abajian (ILL) def. Fidan Manashirova (OSU) 6-1, 6-1

Doubles competition
1. Kelsey Haviland/Cami Hubbs (OSU) def. Chelcie Abajian/Rachael White (ILL) 8-4
2. Paloma Escobedo/Christina Keesey (OSU) def. #51 Leigh Finnegan/Megan Fudge (ILL) 8-3
3. Marisa Lambropoulos/Breanne Smutko (ILL) def. Gabby Steele/Fidan Manashirova (OSU) 8-6

Match Notes:
Ohio State 16-7, 3-4 Big Ten; National ranking #33
Illinois 12-7, 6-1 Big Ten; National ranking #26
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,5,4,2,3,1)