April 29, 2017
COLUMBUS, Ohio – With four singles wins, including two in three sets, the No. 4-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team downed Illinois, 4-3, in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals in Urbana, Ill., Saturday. Ohio State, the defending tournament champion, earned a third consecutive spot in the tournament final.
The No. 1 seed Buckeyes, now 27-2, dropped the doubles point, but rallied in singles against No. 4 seed and host Illini. Sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo and senior Gabriella De Santis won in straight sets, while seniors Sandy Niehaus and Miho Kowase both dropped the first set but came back to win in a third to secure the team victory.
The Buckeyes will play against either No. 2 seed Michigan or No. 3 Northwestern in the final Sunday. The match, set to start at 1 p.m. ET, will be televised live on BTN and BTN2Go.
“I don’t think we played our best tennis, but we had some really gutsy performances by a few people,” Melissa Schaub, Ohio State head coach, said. “Tournament time is tough and we played a good team today on their home courts. I think we will be better because of this match today. A lot of credit goes to Illinois, they were tough.”
Illinois claimed the doubles points. Court two was the first to finish, as the Fighting Illini tandem of Madie Baillon and Jaclyn Switkes downed Buckeyes Anna Sanford and Niehaus, 6-4. The Buckeyes’ No. 19-ranked duo of Di Lorenzo and Kowase prevailed over Louise Kwong and Ines Vias, 6-3, winning the last four games and breaking for the victory on court one. The doubles point came down to court three. Illinois’ Alexis Casati and Daniela Pedraza Novak won the final two games, holding for a 7-5 victory over Buckeye seniors De Santis and Ferny Angeles Paz.
In singles, No. 1-ranked Di Lorenzo dropped just one game on the first court against Kwong, winning 6-1, 6-0. No. 94 De Santis followed with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Baillon on court three to put the Buckeyes ahead 2-1. Illinois won the next two, as Casati topped No. 60 Sanford, 6-4, 6-4, on court two and No. 117 Angeles Paz fell on court six to Grace Tapak by the same score.
On court five, Niehaus, ranked 102nd, dropped the first set against Pedraza Novak, 6-4. The Buckeye senior rolled through the second, 6-1, and then won the third, 6-4, to tie the match at three.
The match came down to court four between No. 95 Kowase and Switkes. After losing the first set 6-2, the Buckeyes’ all-time singles wins leader won the second set 6-3 to force a third. Kowase was broken in the first game but answered with a break of her own and did not lose another game, winning the set 6-1 to claim the team win.
Kowase improves to 30-3 this year, with a 22-0 ledger in dual matches, and picks up career win No. 107. Di Lorenzo is now 23-1 this spring and 33-1 overall on the year, with 18 consecutive wins. Niehaus, on a 16-match winning streak, is now 99-16 as a Buckeye, with a 21-1 mark this spring. De Santis has won 10 matches in a row, improver her dual record to 17-4 and standing 20-8 overall this year.
Illinois vs Ohio State
Apr 29, 2017 at Urbana, Ill.
(Atkins Tennis Complex)
#4 Ohio State 4, Illinois 3
1. #1 Francesca Di Lorenzo (OSU) def. Louise Kwong (ILL) 6-1, 6-0
2. Alexis Casati (ILL) def. #60 Anna Sanford (OSU) 6-4, 6-4
3. #94 Gabriella De Santis (OSU) def. Madie Baillon (ILL) 6-4, 6-3
4. #95 Miho Kowase (OSU) def. Jaclyn Switkes (ILL) 2-6, 6-3, 6-1
5. #102 Sandy Niehaus (OSU) def. D. Pedraza Novak (ILL) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
6. Grace Tapak (ILL) def. #117 Ferny Angeles Paz (OSU) 6-4, 6-4
1. #19 Francesca Di Lorenzo/Miho Kowase (OSU) def. Louise Kwong/Ines Vias (ILL) 6-3
2. Madie Baillon/Jaclyn Switkes (ILL) def. Anna Sanford/Sandy Niehaus (OSU) 6-4
3. Alexis Casati/D. Pedraza Novak (ILL) def. Gabriella De Santis/Ferny Angeles Paz (OSU) 7-5
Ohio State 27-2; National ranking #4
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (1,3,2,6,5,4)
Played on indoor courts