COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 25th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (14-4, 1-1 Big Ten) take on the 56th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-7, 2-1 Big Ten) at 3 p.m. Friday at the Stickney Tennis Center in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes then take on the University of Iowa (11-3, 1-2 Big Ten) at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Stickney. Ohio State is 6-1 at home this season, with the first seven matches held indoors. The match Friday will be the team’s first outdoor match in Columbus this season.
BUCKEYES RE-ENTER TOP 25
Ohio State jumped 20 spots to land at No. 25 in the most recent Campbell’s/ITA polls. The Buckeyes were ranked 45th before downing 38th-ranked Long Beach State and 48th-ranked Rice on the road over Spring Break.
Earlier this season, the Scarlet and Gray broke a team record, earning a No. 17 ranking, the highest in program history.
Buckeye Kirsten Flower enters the match ranked No. 66 in the most recent Campbell/ITA National Singles Rankings. The senior has won six-consecutive matches.
A HISTORY OF THE SERIES
The Buckeyes are a combined 29-45 against the two opponents this weekend.
The Scarlet and Gray are 14-24 all-time against the Gophers. Ohio State has won six-straight, dating back to 2004. The teams met last year in Minneapolis, resulting in a 5-2 win for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State is 15-21 all-time against Iowa. The Buckeyes have won the last two matches against the Hawkeyes, including a 6-1 win on the road in Iowa City, Iowa, last year.
SCOUTING THE GOPHERS
Minnesota is 3-5 against nationally ranked opponents this season, downing Kentucky, Wichita State and Oregon by a score of 4-3 in each match. The Buckeyes faced Kentucky and Oregon earlier in the season, winning 7-0 and 4-1, respectively.
The Gophers are 1-4 on the road this season, while the Buckeyes hold a 6-1 home record.
Alessandra Ferrazzi and Tijana Koprivica share the team lead for singles victories this season with 21 each. Koprivica and Jackie Sperling lead the Gophers in doubles victories with 10.
Ferrazzi and Koprivica form the 80th-ranked doubles team in the nation, according to the Campbell/Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.
Buckeye head coach Chuck Merzbacher is an alum of the Gopher program, where he posted 137 wins, was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and played on two Big Ten championship teams.
THE HAWKEYES AT A GLANCE
Iowa comes into the match following a 4-3 win over conference opponent Michigan State. The road match is only the fifth for the Hawkeyes this season. The team currently holds a 2-1 away record, with the fourth match scheduled against Penn State Friday.
Sonja Molnar, who has racked up 18 singles victories so far this season, leads Iowa in the win column. The 55th-ranked sophomore from Ontario has played each match at the No. 1 position.
Molnar and Jessica Young hold the team lead for doubles victories this season (5). The twosome of Molnar and Merel Beelen is ranked 15th in the nation by Campbell’s/ITA.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
Gabby Steele leads the Buckeyes with 20 singles victories this season, including a 14-2 record in the spring. Classmate Fidan Manashirova follows closely with 18 wins, while Kirsten Flower’s six-match win streak has catapulted her to 17 wins.
Steele and Flower, along with senior Christina Keesey, are 2-0 in Big Ten play this season.
Cami Hubbs and Kelsey Haviland form the leading doubles pair with 14 wins. Manashirova and Steele have been a problem for opponents all season, compiling a 13-4 record, including 10 wins in the spring.
Paloma Escobedo and Keesey have 12 doubles wins this season, 11 of them coming in the spring.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The Buckeyes have experienced tremendous fan support this season, ranking in the Top 10 in both total and average attendance in 2010. Ohio State ranks sixth in total attendance with 760, just five behind Tulsa. The Scarlet and Gray average 109 fans per match, ranking eighth in the country.
The Big Ten is well represented in the rankings, with four of the top 10 teams. Ohio State is also one of only four programs with both the men and women’s teams ranked in the top 10 of total attendance this season.
The support has helped the Buckeyes to a 6-1 home record.
Women’s Attendance Race
Washington State 839
Notre Dame 813
Ohio State 760
Florida State 218
Notre Dame 116
Ohio State 109
BUCKEYES DOWN LONG BEACH STATE
The 45th-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (13-4,1-1 Big Ten) defeated No. 36 Long Beach State (12-3) on the road in Long Beach, Calif., 6-1, Tuesday, ending the 49ers six-match win streak.
The Buckeyes improved to 13-0 when taking the doubles point after sweeping the 49ers in all three doubles matches. The top Scarlet and Gray tandem of Kelsey Haviland and Cami Hubbs took down Jaklin Alawi and Rachel Manasse, 8-1. Paloma Escobedo and Christina Keesey pushed their winning streak to five matches after defeating Deborah Armstrong and Anais Dallara, 8-4, at No. 2. The freshman duo of Gabby Steele and Fidan Manashirova earned its 10th win of the spring season with an 8-2 victory over Anna Jeczmionka and Sarah Cantlay on court three.
At the top of the singles lineup, Kirsten Flower, ranked 61st in the country, downed Alawi in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, to extend her winning streak to five matches. Escobedo needed only two sets to put away Dallara, 7-5, 6-3, at No. 2.
Haviland notched a win at the third spot, defeating Armstrong in a super-tiebreaker and finishing with a match score of 7-6 (3), 2-6, 10-7. Long Beach State’s Manasse earned her team’s only point after downing Keesey, 6-1, 6-2, at the fourth position.
Steele earned her team-leading 19th win after taking her match against Jeczmionka, 7-6 (0), 6-1, at No. 5. Manashirova finished the day with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Julie Luzar at the sixth spot.
OHIO STATE EARNS WIN OVER RICE OWLS
The 45th-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (14-4, 1-1 Big Ten) earned its 14th win of the season following a 4-3 victory over the No. 40 Rice Owls (9-6) on the road in Houston, Texas, Saturday afternoon.
The Buckeyes dropped the doubles point but won four singles matches for the victory, with freshman Gabby Steele clinching the win with a three-set victory at No. 4.
The Owls won the final two doubles matches to take the team point after the top Buckeye duo of Cami Hubbs and Kelsey Haviland downed the 41st-ranked twosome of Julie Chao and Ana Guzman, 8-1. Rebekka Hänle and Rebecca Lin bested Ohio State’s Fidan Manashirova and Steele on court three, 8-2, to tie the teams.
With the match on court two the deciding factor, the Buckeyes’ Paloma Escobedo and Christina Keesey battled Jessica Jackson and Daniella Trigo, but fell to the Owl tandem in a tiebreaker, 9-8 (5).
In singles, Hubbs was off the court first for the Buckeyes, defeating Trigo at the number six spot, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0, to tie the match. In the top singles match of the day, Kirsten Flower, ranked No. 61 in the nation, took her match against Hänle in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2. The victory was the sixth-consecutive for the Buckeye senior.
Down 2-1, Rice tied it up after No. 106 Jackson held off Haviland in the third set to take the match, 6-2, 1-6, 6-1. The Buckeyes climbed into the lead when Escobedo earned her 10th spring victory in a match against Chao on court two, winning 6-1, 7-5.
Lin notched a win against Keesey in straight sets on court five, taking the match 7-5, 7-5, to tie the score at 3 apiece.
The outcome of the match came down to the action on court four between the Buckeyes’ Steele and Rice’s Guzman. Guzman took the first set, but the freshman from Ohio State stormed back to take the final two sets and the match, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, and clinch the win for the Scarlet and Gray. The victory moved Steele’s singles win total to 20, making her the first Buckeye to reach the mark this season.