May 29, 2017
ATHENS, Ga. – Memorial Day 2017 will be a memorable one for Ohio State’s Francesca Di Lorenzo and Miho Kowase as they claimed the programs first NCAA Championship, winning the doubles title on Monday in Athens, Ga.
The Buckeyes dropped the opening set to the No. 5 ranked team of Maddie Pothoff and Erin Routliffe of Alabama but rallied to win the second 6-4 and then took the upper hand midway through the super breaker and clinched the title with a 10-7 victory.
“It’s pretty amazing, especially for Miho to end her career like this,” said Di Lorenzo. “She deserves it more than anybody else. She’s an unbelievable player, and I wouldn’t want to do this with anybody else especially because this is an unbelievable place to do it. For Miho to come back here and for us to be able to win it together feels incredible.”
For Kowase, ending her career in Athens with a title had a little extra meaning. Her sister Maho, who is the winningest player in Georgia women’s tennis history with a combined 245 singles and doubles victories, also ended her career in the NCAA Doubles final Dan McGill Tennis Complex in 2014. In that match, she would fall coincidentally to a team from Alabama. Miho was in the stands that day and now three years later, she found herself with a chance for redemption.
“It feels amazing, I still can’t believe it,” Kowase said. “Three years ago I watched my sister lose her last match here against Alabama. And I thought to myself, ‘I want revenge.’ Here I am three years later winning it.”
The Buckeyes fell behind an early break in the first but recovered with a big break to even the opening set at 5-5. After a pair of holds, the teams went to a tiebreaker where they found themselves on serve at 5-4 after two Buckeye holds. Pothoff and Routliffe then won four of the next five points to take the tiebreak 8-6.
“I think we let go of the nerves we had starting out,” said Di Lorenzo. “At the beginning our footwork was off and we were playing tight tennis, which is never good. They were serving really well and we were getting frustrated, so once we calmed down and took it point by point, doing what we really do best, we started executing much better.”
In the second, Di Lorenzo and Kowase won the first two games only to see the Bama duo pull even by winning the next two. At 3-3, the Buckeyes won a big break point to take a 4-3 lead and would hold serve in the next two games to take the set 6-4.
In the super-tiebreak, the Buckeyes kept the momentum and won the first three points. But again, the Bama pair was able to fight back and eventually took a 6-5 lead and was serving. That’s when the Buckeyes took control by winning both points on the Alabama serve and then Kowase hit a big backhand winner down the line to give the Buckeyes three match points at 9-6. Bama was able to hold off one match point but a huge service return from Di Lorenzo forced a long return from the Crimson Tide and the Buckeyes won the national title.
“They are great teammates. They work so hard and remain discipline,” said head coach Melissa Schaub on what made Di Lorenzo and Kowase successful this week. “This is a testament to how they take care of themselves. Most teams by this point in the tournament are running on fumes and I still felt like they had a lot left in the tank. I think after a heartbreaking end to the team season and then Francesca losing early in the singles tournament, this was a great way for them to finish. Especially for Miho being a senior. I know Francesca has a lot of respect for her and I know it meant a lot for her to send Miho out the way she deserves to be sent out.”
The win was not only the first national title for Di Lorenzo and Kowase but it was also a big win for the program that is continuing its rise on the national stage.
“This win means so much and we can’t be more excited to bring a trophy back to Columbus,” Schaub said. “The players have an unbelievable amount of pride in who they play for. I know this is an individual tournament but they are yelling Go Bucks and they aren’t just doing it for themselves but everyone in the program. This means a lot of us going forward and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them. We had a great season and this is a great way to finish it off.”
Kowase and Di Lorenzo finished their season with a record of 23-1. For Kowase, she finishes her career with 213 career singles and doubles victories and is just the second Buckeyes with more than 100 singles and more than 100 doubles victories.
May 28, 2017
The Ohio State tandem of Francesca Di Lorenzo and Miho Kowase will play for the NCAA Doubles Championship Monday after a straight-set win Sunday. The duo, the first Buckeye doubles team to reach the NCAA semifinals, is looking to win the program’s first NCAA title.
The Buckeyes will face Alabama’s Maddie Pothoff and Erin Routliffe, a 5-8 seed ranked fifth, at 1 p.m. Monday for the national title. The match will be streamed through NCAA.com: http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2017/05/29.
“I think we started off a little slow,” Di Lorenzo, a sophomore from New Albany, Ohio, said. “Maybe we were a bit distracted or maybe because we were not moving our feet as fast as we should, but we started getting our foot work down and Miho (Kowase) began making her great plays. Once we got into the game completely and into our game plan mentally, we made it our game and came out with the victory.”
Facing No. 34-ranked Maya Jansen and Maegan Manesse of Cal, the Buckeyes were broken to start and after a Cal hold were down 2-0. The Buckeyes then took control, winning the next six games to take the first set, 6-2. The teams held through the first six games of the second set. Ohio State won on the deuce point to go ahead 4-3, broke in the next game and held to win the match, 6-2, 6-3.
“We want to just keep doing what we have been doing,” Di Lorenzo said of the championship match. “Whoever we play is going to be a really tough team, but we have to come out and play as well as we can. We need to come out aggressive and make sure we stick to our game plan.”
The win marked career doubles victory No. 100 for Kowase. The Buckeyes’ all-time singles wins leader (112), she joins classmate Sandy Niehaus as the only Buckeyes to win 100 singles and doubles matches. Kowase has a program-record 32 doubles wins this season, passing the 31 set by Julie Blackmore in 2008 and Olivia Sneed in 2016.
As a team, Di Lorenzo and Kowase, ranked 18th, are 22-1 this year and have won their last 18 completed matches.
May 27, 2017
ATHENS, Ga. – The Ohio State tandem of Francesca Di Lorenzo and Miho Kowase posted yet another victory in the NCAA Doubles Championship on Saturday and have moved into the semifinals, making them the first Buckeye doubles team to reach the final four.
Saturday’s match with No. 3 seed Mami Adachi and Aldila Sutjiadi of Kentucky was a wild one in which it was almost a disadvantage to serve. The serving team in the match held serve in just eight of the 22 games.
Di Lorenzo and Kowase won the first three games of the match and would break the Wildcats in their first three service games to take a 5-1 lead. After a hold, they were broken at 5-3 but the Buckeyes broke yet again to win 6-4.
In the second, the serving side held in the first three games before the Buckeyes went up a break at 3-1. The Wildcats broke back on a good deuce point to make it 3-2 but the Buckeyes again broke to go up 4-2. The next three games were all won by the receiving team before Adachi and Sutjiadi finally held to even the set at 5-5.
Di Lorenzo and Kowase won a crucial deuce point to hold serve and go up 6-5 and then broke the Wildcats once again, this time on love, to win the set and match 7-5.
“I think we stayed calm and stayed aggresive,” said Di Lorenzo. “We were up a break 4-2 and lost it so we just had to stay calm regroup a little bit and just know what we’re good at. We stayed aggresvie and put the pressure back on them and I think we did that well. In the end we closed out a point here and there and closed out with a few volley’s and were able to win the match.”
The win pushes the Buckeyes into the semifinals were they will face Cal’s Maya Jansen and Maegan Manasse on Sunday afternoon. Di Lorenzo and Kowase are just the second Buckeyes doubles team to earn All-America honors, joining Kristy Dascoli and Monica Rincon who reached the quarterfinals in 2001.
May 26, 2017
Di Lorenzo and Kowase grabbed the only break of the first set and won the first 6-4 over the Auburn pair of Alizee Michaud and Taylor Russo. They found similar success in the second, taking that set 6-3 and punched their ticket to the quarterfinals.
With the win, the Buckeye duo earns the first doubles All-America honors of their careers. They are just the second Buckeye doubles team to earn the prestigious honor, joining Kristy Dascoli and Monica Rincon who earned the award in 2001.
In Saturday’s quarterfinals, Di Lorenzo and Kowase will face the No. 3 seeded team of Mami Adachi and Aldila Sutjiadi of Kentucky.
May 25, 2017
Ohio State’s Francesca Di Lorenzo and Miho Kowase pulled-off a comeback victory over the seeded team from host Georgia of Caroline Brinson and Ellen Perez on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA Doubles Championship.
The Buckeye pair fell behind an early break in the first but rallied to even the set at 5-5. Brinson and Perez then won the next two games to take the opening set 7-5. In the second, Di Lorenzo and Kowase won the first three games and would roll to a 6-1 victory, forcing a super-breaker to decide the match. The Buckeyes jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the breaker and would hold that edge throughout, winning the tiebreak 10-6.
The win pushes Di Lorenzo and Kowase into the round of 16 where they will face Alizee Michaud and Taylor Russo of Auburn on Friday. The winner of that match will earn ITA All-American honors.
On Wednesday in the opening round of the singles tournament, Di Lorenzo, who was the top seed, was upended by Mayar Sherif Ahmed of Pepperdine 6-4, 6-2.