COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 75th-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (7-5, 1-0 Big Ten) hosts South Florida (5-9) at 11 a.m. Sunday in the first of two matches inside the Ohio State University Varsity Tennis Center. The Buckeyes take on Eastern Michigan (6-5) at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Following the matches against South Florida and Eastern Michigan Sunday, Ohio State will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., for a showdown against Tennessee Wednesday. The Buckeyes and Volunteers met earlier in the season during ITA Kick-Off Weekend where Tennessee pulled away in a 6-1 victory.
Ohio State continues its Big Ten slate against conference foes Iowa and Illinois at home March 25 and 27. The Buckeyes opened their conference schedule with a 6-1 victory against Penn State at home Feb. 11.
OHIO STATE IN THE BOOKS
13-3: 2010 regular season record vs. non-conference opponents
6-5: 2011 regular season record vs. non-conference opponents
7-5: 2011 season record
5-0: 2011 home record
2-5: 2011 record vs. ranked teams
0-7: all-time vs. South Florida
10-3: all-time vs. Eastern Michigan
PREVIEWING THE BULLS
South Florida is led at the top of singles by Irene Rehberger, who is ranked 47th nationally. Janette Bejlkova and Ecaterina Vasenina join Rehberger in the ITA rankings. The two are polled at 70th and 100th, respectively. Bejlkova and Loreta Alonso Martinez form the 46th-ranked doubles tandem.
Ohio State is winless against the Bulls in seven matches all-time. The last meeting between the teams was in 2009 when South Florida prevailed at home, 5-2.
A LOOK AT THE EAGLES
The Eastern Michigan Eagles are led by Nino Mebuke, who has record 13 singles wins this season while sharing time at the top spot with Miriam Westerink and Xu Chang. Membuke and Westerink form the Eagles’ top doubles tandem. The duo leads the team with 14 wins.
The Buckeyes hold a 10-3 record against Eastern Michigan. The Buckeyes and the Eagles faced off last in 2008 when the Scarlet and Gray earned its third shutout of the season with a 7-0 victory against EMU.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
Sophomore Fidan Manashirova leads the Buckeyes in singles wins this season with 18, followed by classmates Gabby Steele and Kara Cecil, who have each racked up 15 victories. The doubles tandem of Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs holds the team lead in doubles victories with 10.
Hubbs and Steele both enter the match Sunday morning on impressive winning streaks. Hubbs has racked up nine-consecutive wins and Steele follows with seven in a row. The seven-consecutive wins tie a career high for Steele, while Hubbs won 12 in a row during her record breaking, 36-win freshman campaign.
IN THE POLLS
The Ohio State doubles duo of Gabby Steele and Kelsey Haviland reemerged in the national rankings this week. The tandem was polled at 69th March 15.
LEAVING A MARK
With 68 career singles victories, Hubbs is tied for 11th with Caitlin O’Keefe (2005-08) in the Ohio State record book. Her 78 career doubles victories put her in 12th place. Escobedo, Hubbs’ doubles partner, has recorded 77 career doubles wins, good for 13th all-time. Escobedo’s 65 singles victories tie her with Ann Beaudoin (1979-81) for 15th.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The Buckeyes not only hold a 5-0 home record this season, but the team has also notched three shutouts while playing inside the OSU Varsity Tennis Center. Ohio State opened the season with consecutive 7-0 victories against Cincinnati and Cleveland State Jan. 23 before whitewashing William & Mary at home Feb. 13.
The two non-shutouts were a 6-1 victory against conference foe Penn State Feb. 11 and a 6-1 win against Louisville March 4.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
The Buckeyes have accumulated a 26-5 (.839) record at the No. 4-6 singles positions this season, including a flawless 10-0 ledger at No. 6.
Gabby Steele is 9-1 at No. 4 this season and is currently riding a seven-match winning streak, second to only Cami Hubbs, who has won nine in a row and has yet to drop a dual match in 2011. Fidan Manashirova is 6-1 at No. 5 this season and is 7-2 in her last 10 matches, with one match left unfinished.
LEADING THE WAY
Ohio State women’s tennis seniors Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs were named captains of the 2011 team, head coach Chuck Merzbacher announced. Along with the two seniors, junior Kelsey Haviland will join the group as an assistant captain.
“All three have been leaders throughout their careers and are committed to taking our program to even higher heights,” Merzbacher said. “They all represent the university, athletics department and team on and off the court with class and sportsmanship. It is going to be a successful year because of their love of Ohio State and our program.”
LIKE ALL GOOD THINGS…
Fidan Manashirova pushed her win streak to 14 consecutive matches before dropping a 6-1, 6-0 decision to Oklahoma’s Marie-Pier Huet Feb. 27. Her streak was the longest since at least the 2007-08 season for any Buckeye in singles.
The streak began with a victory against Boston University’s Petra Santini at the Big Green Invite Nov. 5, 2010, and included wins against opponents from 13 schools, including teammate Kelsey Becker. Eleven of the 14 victories came in straight sets.
With 18 singles victories this season, the Elk Grove, Calif., native is just one win shy of matching her mark from last year. Manashirova opened her 19-win freshman campaign on a seven-match win streak.