COLUMBUS, Ohio — The No. 38 Ohio State women’s tennis team kicks off the 2010 spring season Tuesday at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center (880 West Henderson Road). The Buckeyes will face the Xavier Musketeers at 2 p.m. and the Cleveland State Vikings at 7 p.m. in the season-opening doubleheader. Admission to all Ohio State home matches is free.
THE MUSKETEERS AT A GLANCE
The Musketeers finished 17-9 last year, including a 5-1 conference record. The Buckeyes are 1-0 all-time against Xavier, with the only meeting resulting in a 7-0 win for OSU in Columbus.
Seniors Jill Ducro and Kaitlyn Zinn return for their final season after finishing at the top of the team’s singles win column last year at third (20) and first (21), respectively. Ducro, along with junior Tifanie Treece, was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference second team for her efforts. Xavier, under the direction of head coach Eric Toth, advanced to the conference tournament semifinals before falling to Temple in 2009.
PREVIEWING THE VIKINGS
Cleveland State also posted 17 wins on the way to a 17-11 record in its 2009 campaign. The Vikings finished with a 5-3 record in Horizon League matches. Ohio State owns a 4-0 advantage in meetings with Cleveland State, last facing off in Columbus in 2008.
Top player Catrine Bjerrehus, named to the All-Horizon League first team as a freshman last season, returns after posting a 21-17 singles record at the No. 1 position. Also returning for the Vikings is senior Charlotte Gibbons, who earned a spot on the All-Horizon League second team after finishing with a 13-19 record, predominantly from No. 2 in the lineup.
OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
The Scarlet and Gray hold an 11-2 record in season openers under the direction of head coach Chuck Merzbacher, as well as a 14-2 ledger in season-opening doubleheaders during Merzbacher’s tenure.
Up next for the Buckeyes following Tuesday’s action is another doubleheader against Memphis and host school Missouri Saturday in Columbia, Mo.
The Buckeyes will compete in one more doubleheader this season, Feb. 28 against Oregon and California University (Pa.).
IN THE POLLS
The Ohio State women’s tennis team is slated 38th in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, while senior Kirsten Flower is ranked No. 53 nationally in singles, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced. In the ITA’s Midwest singles rankings, Flower is No. 7, senior Christina Keesey is No. 14 and junior Paloma Escobedo is 19th. The doubles tandem of junior Cami Hubbs and sophomore Kelsey Haviland holds down the No. 4 spot.
Flower, an All-Big Ten selection a season ago, was 3-2 in the fall and participated in the prestigious Riviera All-American Championships. She had a team-best 19 wins a season ago.
Keesey was 5-2 in the fall, winning her last three matches. She was 15-12 last year and has 68 career wins as a Buckeye. Escobedo, who missed time with an injury in the fall, had three tournament wins. She posted 13 victories in 2008-09.
Hubbs and Haviland were 5-2 in the fall tournament season to lead the Buckeyes.
A Look Back at the Fall
The Buckeyes enjoyed a solid fall season, claiming impressive wins over quality opponents from around the country. The team kicked off its fall slate with three players earning a trip to the prestigious Riviera/ITA All-American Championships. Senior Kirsten Flower notched a win over ranked opponent Martina Pavelec of Wake Forest while junior Paloma Escobedo also defeated Texas Tech’s Kelsy Garland.
Next up for the team was a trip to the Kentucky Invitational. Freshman phenom Fidan Manashirova began her Ohio State career with a singles flight title in the event after going a perfect 4-0. Fellow classmate Gabby Steele advanced to the final match before falling in the third set of the final match, but finished 3-1 for the event. The two freshmen, along with the duo of Cami Hubbs and Kelsey Haviland, finished 3-1 in doubles.
At the ITA Midwest Regional Championships, seven Buckeyes saw action in the singles main draw after Haviland, Manashirova and Steele won their way out of the qualifying rounds. The trio then joined the upperclassmen group of Flower, Keesey, Hubbs and Escobedo in the main draw. Flower earned two wins in advancing to the quarterfinals. The doubles tandem of Hubbs and Haviland also posted two wins and reached the doubles quarterfinals.
The final autumn event was the Thunderbird Invitational, where senior Christina Keesey found her groove on the way to a 3-1 singles ledger. Freshman Kara Cecil picked up her first collegiate singles win in the event and also played well in doubles, pairing up with a player from Arizona State to go 1-1.
Fidan Manashirova finished the fall as the team’s leader in singles wins with seven, while Cami Hubbs and Kelsey Haviland each had five doubles wins.