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Jan. 5, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In the Oracle/ITA rankings heading into the spring season, Ohio State women’s tennis freshman Francesca Di Lorenzo is ranked second, the highest singles ranking for a Buckeye in program history. The doubles tandem of sophomore Anna Sanford and junior Miho Kowase is slotted No. 6, the highest ranking for a Buckeye doubles team since Kristy Dascoli and Monica Rincon were No. 5 in 2001. Junior Sandy Niehaus is ranked No. 67 in singles and is paired with classmate Ferny Angeles Paz as the 36th-ranked doubles team.

As a team, Ohio State is ranked 18th, second among Big Ten programs behind only No. 14 Michigan. The Buckeyes’ program record for team ranking is 17th, set in both 2010 and ’15. The squad ended 2015 ranked 21st and was 20-7 overall, finishing second in the Big Ten with a 10-1 mark and earning an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Di Lorenzo, from New Albany, Ohio, was 9-1 in the fall and captured the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships title, the first national title in Buckeye women’s tennis history. She posted five wins in the tournament, including victories over the No. 3, No. 6 and No. 8 seeds. Her first collegiate matches were at the ITA All-American Championships, where she won three matches in qualifying and reached the Round of 16 in the main draw. Di Lorenzo, who reached the 2015 US Open Juniors semifinals in both singles and doubles, was rated the top newcomer in collegiate tennis entering the fall. The Buckeyes’ previous record for highest singles ranking was No. 19, set by Dascoli in 2001.

Sanford, from Westerville, Ohio, and Kowase, a native of Tokyo, Japan, won the ITA Midwest Regional doubles crown, capturing the first regional title for the Buckeyes with five wins in a row. The duo advanced to the doubles consolation final at the National Indoor Championships, with wins over two ranked teams. The tandem is 8-2 this season.

Niehaus, who hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, was 5-3 in the fall and picked up wins over two ranked players. She reached the quarterfinals of the ITA Midwest Regional tournament. Niehaus and Angeles Paz, a native of Lima, Peru, were 9-2 in the fall and advanced to the ITA Midwest Regional final, where they lost to their Buckeye teammates in a tiebreaker. Niehaus and Angeles Paz posted a win over the No. 6-ranked team from Arizona State during the UT Fall Invite.

In the Midwest singles rankings, Di Lorenzo is ranked first, Niehaus is No. 6, Angeles Paz is 12th, Sanford is No. 13 and Kowase is No. 15. Sanford and Kowase are the region’s top ranked doubles team, with Niehaus and Paz ranked fourth.

The Buckeyes open their season with a doubleheader Jan. 16, hosting Bowling Green at noon and Xavier at 5 p.m. Jan. 16 in the Ohio State University Varsity Tennis Center.