COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 47 Ohio State women’s tennis team (12-4, 1-1 Big Ten) travels to Long Beach, Calif., Tuesday to face the No. 53 Long Beach State 49ers (12-2) in the first of two matches as part of the Buckeyes’ Spring Break trip. The team will move on to Houston, Texas, to compete against the 44th-ranked Rice Owls (9-5) Thursday before heading home to resume conference play against Minnesota April 2.
A HISTORY OF THE SERIES
The meeting Tuesday is the first between the Buckeyes and 49ers.
Long Beach State is 1-0 against the Big Ten this season, upsetting then-No. 55 Minnesota at home. The 49ers have earned berths to five-consecutive NCAA Tournaments and won the Big West tournament six of the last seven years.
The Buckeyes are 1-1 against the Owls. two teams faced off last season in Columbus, resulting in a 5-2 win for the Scarlet and Gray.
SCOUTING THE 49ERS
Long Beach State is on a six-match winning streak, highlighted by wins over Minnesota and Nebraska, both Top 60 teams.
The 49ers are led in singles wins by Jaklin Alawi, Anais Dallara and Deborah Armstrong (13). All three have spent time competing at the top spot. Rachel Manasse has won a team-best 12 singles matches in the spring.
In doubles, Long Beach is led by Armstrong and Dallara with 14 wins. Alawi and Manasse follow closely with 12 doubles wins.
A GLANCE AT THE OWLS
Ana Guzman leads Rice in singles victories this season (10). Jessica Jackson, ranked 106th in singles, is close behind with nine wins.
Guzman is also one half of the top doubles tandem for the Owls, teaming up with Julie Chao to win a team-best 10 doubles matches this spring. The duo is ranked 41st in the nation.
The Owls are 7-0 at home this season, including wins over Arizona and Arkansas, who were ranked 56th and 18th, respectively, at the time of the matches.
BUCKEYES FALL IN ITA POLLS
Following the loss to Purdue in their last time out, the Buckeyes fell from 30th to 47th in the ITA national poll. Senior Kirsten Flower dropped to No. 61 in singles rankings, despite her four-match win streak.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
Freshman Gabby Steele retained her team lead in singles wins (18) after defeating Purdue’s Imogen Golder last time out. Classmate Fidan Manashirova is only one win shy of sharing the lead with 17 victories. Flower and Steele are tied in singles wins during dual season (12).
Manashirova and Steele are tied with the twosome of Kelsey Haviland and Cami Hubbs in doubles victories on the season with 12. Paloma Escobedo and Christina Keesey lead in doubles wins during the spring (10). The duo is also riding a four-match win streak.
Ohio State’s two Spring Break matches this week happen to be in the home states of two current Buckeyes, Californian Fidan Manashirova and Texas native Paloma Escobedo.
With one more shutout victory, the Buckeyes will tie a single-season program record for shutout wins. The record is currently at eight, set during the 1978-79 season under Barbara Mueller and tied by Chuck Merzbacher’s 2006-07 squad.
The Scarlet and Gray earned their seventh shutout of 2010 against Penn State March 5 in State College, Pa.
ODDS AND ENDS
Ohio State is 12-0 this season when winning the doubles point and 11-1 when Kirsten Flower has won at the No. 1 position.
Following her win over Anna Dushkina of Purdue last week, Christina Keesey moved one win closer to tying former Buckeye Linda Magid at No. 6 on the career singles wins chart. The senior from Northfield, Minn., is three wins away from Magid’s 78 career victories.
Keesey tied former Buckeye Caitlin O’Keefe at No. 13 in career doubles wins after teaming with Paloma Escobedo to defeat Purdue’s duo of Gisella Pere and Dushkina last week.
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.
Women’s Attendance Race
Washington State 839
Notre Dame 813
Ohio State 760
Florida State 218
Notre Dame 116
Ohio State 109
BUCKEYES EDGED BY BOILERMAKERS
The No. 30 Ohio State women’s tennis team (12-4, 1-1 Big Ten) fell in a close, 4-3 match to No. 57 Purdue (10-1, 2-1 Big Ten) in West Lafayette, Ind., March 12 in its last time out.
Purdue took the early lead after winning the doubles point. The Buckeyes took the match on court two to begin doubles, but the Boilermakers stormed back to win the two remaining matches. At No. 1, Purdue’s Michelle Sammons and Jennifer Rabot downed Kelsey Haviland and Cami Hubbs, 8-3. On court two, the Buckeye twosome of Paloma Escobedo and Christina Keesey defeated Gisella Pere and Anna Dushkina, 8-2. Ohio State freshmen Gabby Steele and Fidan Manashirova kept it close against Imogen Golder and Bhavani Tirumurti, but dropped the match, 8-5, to give Purdue a 1-0 lead.
The Boilermakers quickly expanded the lead to 3-0 after Pere took her match against Manashirova in straight sets 6-4, 6-3, on court six and Tirumurti bested Haviland by the same score on court three.
Ohio State battled back to tie the match at 3 after winning on courts one, four and five. At the top position, No. 49 Kirsten Flower needed three sets to top Sammons, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, to stretch her win streak to four matches. Keesey, playing on court four, fought through an early deficit to rally and take her match against Dushkina, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Steele won her team-leading 18th match of the season, downing Golder in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.
With the match on the line on court two, Escobedo and Rabot played to an exciting third set ending. The Ohio State junior took the first set, 6-1, before Rabot responded with a 7-5 victory in the second set. Down 5-2 in the third frame, Escobedo climbed back to a 5-4 score before the sophomore from Purdue closed the door on the comeback to clinch the match and the win for the Boilermakers.