COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 32 Ohio State women’s tennis team (17-7, 4-4 Big Ten) faces off against the Badgers of Wisconsin (7-14, 2-6 Big Ten) and the No. 6 Northwestern Wildcats (16-6, 7-1) this weekend. The Buckeyes battle the Badgers Friday at 6 p.m. EST in the Ohio State University Varsity Tennis Center (880 West Henderson Road), followed by their match against the Wildcats Sunday at noon EST. The match Sunday is scheduled to be played outdoors at the Stickney Tennis Center, but will be moved indoors in the case of inclement weather.
This weekend marks Senior Weekend for the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s two seniors, Christina Keesey and Kirsten Flower, will be honored in a post-match ceremony Sunday. Keesey, a four-year member of the squad, has participated in two NCAA tournaments. Flower, who earned All-Big Ten honors in her first season with the team, also was a member of the 2009 NCAA tournament squad. She and her father Jim, a Buckeye letterwinner, are believed to be the first father-daughter duo in the conference to earn All-Big Ten honors in tennis.
IN THE THICK OF THINGS
Heading into the final weekend of regular season play, the Buckeyes are 4-4 in the Big Ten, standing in a three-way tie for fifth with Purdue and Indiana. Earlier this season, the Boilermakers defeated the Buckeyes, but fell to the Hoosiers, while Ohio State took its match against Indiana.
Michigan sits atop the standings with an unblemished 8-0 record. Northwestern and Illinois sit in second and third, respectively, at 7-1 in the conference.
The Big Ten championship is set for next weekend in Iowa City, Iowa. The final bracket will be released Sunday night after all matches are complete.
BUCKEYES RISE IN ITA POLLS
Ohio State moved up one spot from last week, coming in at No. 32 in the latest ITA Polls.
Earlier this season, the Scarlet and Gray set a program record when they reached No. 17 in the rankings.
Kirsten Flower also climbed the charts in the ITA singles rankings, moving up four spots. The senior from Upper Arlington, Ohio, is now ranked 65th in the nation.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
Freshman Gabby Steele leads the Buckeyes in singles wins this season (24), followed by senior Kirsten Flower and sophomore Kelsey Haviland, who both have 20 victories on the year.
The duo of Paloma Escobedo and Christina Keesey top the charts in doubles wins with 18 this season, including six-straight and nine of their last 10.
A HISTORY OF THE SERIES
Ohio State is 9-30 all-time when facing Wisconsin. The Scarlet and Gray have won three-straight against the Badgers, including a 4-3 decision to close out the regular season last year.
Northwestern owns a 29-5 record against Ohio State. The Wildcats have won eight-consecutive matches, dating back to 2004. The Buckeyes faced NU twice last season, dropping both matches.
SCOUTING THE BADGERS
The Badgers are coming off a weekend that saw them upset then-No. 60 Minnesota, 4-3, before falling to then-No. 21 Iowa, 5-2.
Freshman Hannah Berner leads the Badgers in singles wins (13). Katya Mirnova and Angela Chupa own the team lead in doubles victories (8).
The Badgers close their regular season Sunday against Penn State.
A LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
The No. 6-ranked Wildcats enter the weekend after defeating Iowa and Minnesota at home last week by a combined score of 13-1.
The team is led in singles by Maria Mosolova, who is ranked sixth nationally by the ITA. Joining Mosolova in the rankings are Samantha Murray and Lauren Lui, ranked 39th and 104th, respectively. Lui has won five-straight to lead the team in singles victories this season with 18.
Murray combines with Kate Turvy to form the Wildcats’ doubles wins duo (10). The tandem is 10-1 this season and at one point had won nine-consecutive matches.
Northwestern is 5-5 against ranked opponents this season and 3-5 away from home. The Wildcats face Penn State Saturday before squaring off with the Buckeyes.
ODDS AND ENDS
Senior Christina Keesey, currently with 77 career singles victories, needs a single win this weekend to tie Linda Magid (1995-96) at No. 6 in the all-time record book. Two wins will move Keesey into a tie with Erica Fisk (2000-04) at No. 5.
With her doubles win against Indiana last weekend, Keesey moved into a tie for No. 9 with Yvonne Lohrer (1985-88) with 80 doubles wins.
Gabby Steele needs two singles victories this weekend to move into a four-way tie at No. 11 on the single-season wins list. The freshman from Cincinnati, Ohio, has 24 wins this season.
Ohio State is 12-2 this season against lower and unranked opponents. The team is 5-5 against higher-ranked squads.
The Buckeyes have taken the doubles point in 16 of 24 matches this season. The team is 15-1 in those matches. The lone loss came against Illinois last weekend.
LAST TIME OUT
BUCKEYES SLIDE BY HOOSIERS
Senior Kirsten Flower rallied for a three-set win at No. 1 singles, lifting the 33rd-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (17-7, 4-4 Big Ten) to a victory over 38th-ranked Indiana (14-7, 4-4 Big Ten) in Bloomington, Ind., Sunday afternoon.
The Buckeyes began the match down 1-0 after losing the doubles point but got straight-set singles wins from Gabby Steele, Cami Hubbs and Kelsey Hubbs to take a 3-2 lead. Indiana tied the match with a win at No. 2 but No. 69-ranked Flower came from behind after dropping the first set to down Leslie Hureau and secure the win for Ohio State.
The Hoosiers earned the team doubles point after the 68th-ranked duo of Lindsey Stuckey and Evgeniya Vertesheva defeated Haviland and Hubbs, 8-6.
The No. 2 Buckeye tandem of Paloma Escobedo and Christina Keesey took its match against Leslie Hureau and Myriam Sopel, 8-3, to start the day and extend its win streak to six, but Fidan Manashirova and Steele fell to Charlotte Martin and Katya Zapadalova, 8-5, at No. 3 followed by the Hoosiers’ clinching win.
Steele finished first in singles, dropping just one game against Sopel, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 4 to increase her team-leading win total to 24. Stuckey struck back for the Hoosiers with her victory against Keesey, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 5.
Hubbs tied the match for the Scarlet and Gray following her win against Martin, 6-3, 6-4, on court 6. At the No. 3 position Haviland took her match against Zapadalova, 7-5, 6-2, to put the Buckeyes up by one (3-2) and record her 20th singles victory this year.
Indiana’s Vertesheva postponed the Ohio State victory, however, after taking the match on court two against Escobedo in the third set, 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.
For the second time in two days, Ohio State’s fate came down to the match on court one. Flower struggled in the first set, dropping the frame to Hureau 6-0, but the senior Buckeye battled back to take the last two sets to win, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, and clinch the victory for the Scarlet and Gray. The win was Flower’s 20th of the year, tying her for second on the team.
OHIO STATE FALLS TO ILLINOIS
The 33rd-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (16-7, 3-4 Big Ten) fell to No. 26 Illinois (12-7, 6-1 Big Ten) on the road in Champaign, Ill., Saturday., 4-3
The Buckeyes won the doubles point before dropping the first three singles matches to fall behind 3-1. Wins from Paloma Escobedo and Kelsey Haviland tied the match at 3-all, leaving the No. 1 court to decide the team match winner. In a battle between ranked players at the top spot, Illinois’ Megan Fudge came away with a three-set win over the Buckeyes’ Kirsten Flower, clinching the five-hour match with a tiebreaker victory.
The Buckeyes took an early advantage after posting two doubles victories to earn the doubles point. At No. 2 Escobedo and Christina Keesey defeated the 51st-ranked duo of Leigh Finnegan and Fudge, 8-3. The Buckeye tandem has now won five-straight and holds a 7-0 record in conference matches.
Haviland and Cami Hubbs secured the team point for the Scarlet and Gray after an 8-4 victory against Chelcie Abajian and Rachael White on the first court. Illinois avoided the doubles sweep with Marisa Lambropoulos and Breanne Smutko’s 8-6 defeat of Ohio State’s Gabby Steele and Fidan Manashirova at No. 3.
Illinois would go on to win the first three singles matches, all in straight sets. Abajian downed Manashirova at No. 6, 6-1, 6-1. Smutko earned a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Keesey at No. 5, while Finnegan defeated Steele, 6-2, 6-3.
Ohio State stormed back to knot the score at 3-3 after Escobedo earned a straight sets victory of her own on court two, besting Lambropoulos, 6-2, 6-2. Haviland followed with a win over White, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, at No. 4.
Attention turned to the top matchup on court one between No. 69 Flower and No. 90 Fudge, with the winner of the match clinching a team victory. Flower took the first set, but Fudge answered with a victory of her own, sending the match into a third set. Both players battled, but neither could pull away before the third set was sent into a tiebreaker. Fudge found herself on the winning side of the tiebreaker and the match, taking the bout with a score of 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).