COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 30th-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (15-5, 2-2 Big Ten) travels to the state of Michigan this weekend to face the Michigan State Spartans (6-12, 0-5 Big Ten) and the third-ranked Michigan Wolverines (15-3, 5-0 Big Ten). The Buckeyes travel to East Lansing to battle the Spartans Saturday, followed by a Sunday match against the Wolverines. Both events begin at 11 a.m. EST.
A HISTORY OF THE SERIES
Ohio State holds a 39-47 combined all-time record against its opponents this weekend.
The Buckeyes are 26-13 when facing the Spartans. Last year the Scarlet and Gray earned a 5-2 victory in Columbus. The last loss for the Buckeyes came in 2006.
The team is 13-34 against the Wolverines. Michigan took a 5-2 match in Columbus last year and has won six-consecutive against Ohio State
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Michigan State is looking for its first conference win after dropping its first five, including the past four on the road. The squad came a point short of upsetting Iowa in Iowa City March 28. The Spartans own a 6-4 home record.
Elena Ivanova leads the team in singles wins with 16. Whitney Wilson follows closely with 15. Wilson also leads the team in doubles victories, joining with Amy Barton to take 14 matches this season.
A LOOK AT THE WOLVERINES
The third-ranked Wolverines have won nine-consecutive matches coming into the weekend, including five against Top 35 teams. Michigan upset then-No. 4 Northwestern last weekend in a close 4-3 decision on the road in Evanston, Ill. The win was one of three the team has posted against Top 10 opponents this season.
The Wolverines’ success is due in large part to No. 25-ranked Denise Muresan, who has collected 28 wins so far this season and is currently riding a seven-match win streak. Michelle Sulahian and Mimi Nguyen have 24 and 22 singles wins, respectively.
The doubles tandem of Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno is ranked 30th in the country. The duo is tied for the team lead in doubles wins with Nguyen and Sulahian at 22. The Wolverines have yet to drop a doubles match in Big Ten play.
AT THE TOP OF THE CHARTS
Freshman Gabby Steele still holds the team lead for singles wins this season with 22. The Cincinnati native has won six-consecutive matches and, along with Christina Keesey, is undefeated in Big Ten singles matches. Fidan Manashirova, Steele’s classmate, is one win shy of hitting the 20-win mark this season.
The doubles tandem of Keesey and Paloma Escbedo also owns an unblemished conference ledger at 4-0. The tandem is one of three doubles teams that share the team lead in doubles victories at 14. Manashirova and Steele join Kelsey Haviland and Cami Hubbs as the other twosomes with 14 wins.
BUCKEYES TIE SEASON SHUTOUT RECORD
The Buckeyes’ 7-0 win over Minnesota last Friday put this year’s team in the record books, tying a single-season school record for shutouts at eight. Barbara Mueller’s 1978-79 team set the record that was tied during the 2006-07 season under the direction of current head coach Chuck Merzbacher.
BUCKEYES FALL IN ITA POLLS
The Scarlet and Gray dropped five spots to No. 30 in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association national team rankings.
Earlier this season, the Scarlet and Gray broke a team record, earning a No. 17 ranking, the highest in program history.
Senior Kirsten Flower is ranked No. 66 nationally in singles.
LAST TIME OUT
BUCKEYES BLANK GOLDEN GOPHERS
The 25th-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (15-4, 2-1 Big Ten) downed the 56th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-8, 2-2 Big Ten), 7-0, at home Friday at the Stickney Tennis Center. The Buckeyes won three singles matches in three sets, rallying from a set down on courts one and two.
The Buckeyes opened up their first outdoor home match of the season by taking the doubles point and a 1-0 lead. Minnesota’s duo of Alessandra Ferrazzi and Alexa Palen topped Kelsey Haviland and Cami Hubbs on court one, 8-1, but Ohio State’s Paloma Escobedo and Christina Keesey tied doubles at one apiece after an 8-4 victory on court two over Tijana Koprivica and Jackie Sperling.
The Buckeye freshman tandem of Gabby Steele and Fidan Manashirova clinched the doubles point after battling to an 8-6 win against Doron Muravnik and Mariana Spilca at No. 3.
In singles, Keesey expanded the lead for the Scarlet and Gray, winning in straight sets against Magdalena Wiecha, 6-3, 6-4, at No. 6. Steele moved the Buckeyes one point closer to victory after her own straight set win against Muravnik, 6-3, 6-4, at the fourth position.
Manashirova earned the clinching point after taking her No. 5 singles match against Sperling in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Haviland stormed back from a 5-2 deficit to take the first set 7-6 against Palen. The Buckeye sophomore took the second set to finish the No. 3 match with a final score of 7-6, 6-2.
Escobedo dropped the first set to Minnesota’s Koprivica, but rallied to take the final two sets to win, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, on court two. No. 66-ranked Kirsten Flower wrapped up the shutout in similar fashion, defeating Ferrazzi, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, on court one.
The win put this year’s team in the record books, tying a single-season school record for shutouts at eight. Barbara Mueller’s 1978-79 team set the record but was tied during the 2006-07 season under the direction of current head coach Chuck Merzbacher.
OHIO STATE TOPPED BY HAWKEYES
The No. 25 Ohio State women’s tennis team (15-5, 2-2 Big Ten) fell to the No. 26 Iowa Hawkeyes (13-3, 3-2 Big Ten), 6-1, Sunday afternoon at home at the Stickney Tennis Center.
The Hawkeyes came out strong in doubles, taking the matches on courts one and three to earn the doubles point. The 15th-ranked Hawkeye duo of Sonja Molnar and Merel Beelen defeated Kelsey Haviland and Cami Hubbs on court one, 8-4.
Iowa’s Lynne Poggensee-Wei and Alexis Dorr finished with the same score in their victory over Fidan Manashirova and Gabby Steele at No. 3. The loss was only the fifth for the Buckeye freshman tandem.
Christina Keesey and Paloma Escobedo took their match against the Hawkeyes’ Kelcie Klockenga and Jessica Young on court two, 8-4.
Steele quickly tied the score for the Buckeyes after a straight sets victory over Young on court four, winning 6-1, 6-1. The victory moves Steele’s win streak to six matches.
Iowa struck back with a straight sets victory of its own when Klockenga downed Manashirova on court five, 6-1, 6-4. Moments later, Dorr defeated Hubbs at the sixth position, 6-3, 6-2.
With Iowa needing only a single victory to clinch the match, the crowd moved to focus on the play at the top three positions as all three courts moved into third sets.
Poggensee-Wei provided the clinching point for the Hawkeyes, finishing with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win over Escobedo on court two after battling for nearly three hours. Beelen followed suit, taking the last two sets to win the match over Haviland on court three, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
Emotions ran high on court one as No. 66 Kirsten Flower faced off against No. 55 Molnar. Molnar took the first set, 7-6, but Flower showed her resilience, taking the second set, 6-1. The Upper Arlington, Ohio, native couldn’t hold on in the third set, however, and Molnar proved victorious, winning 7-6, 1-6, 6-4.