COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 45th-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (7-4, 1-0 Big Ten) travels to Lincoln, Neb., Friday to take on the 32nd-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-1, 0-0 Big 12) at 6:30 p.m. CT in the Nebraska Tennis Center.
Livestats can be followed at www.huskers.com under the schedule tab on the Women’s Tennis page.
The next home match for Ohio State is March 20 in a doubleheader against South Florida and Eastern Michigan. The Buckeyes face USF at 11 a.m. and EMU at 6 p.m., with play scheduled for the OSU Varsity Tennis Center.
OHIO STATE IN THE BOOKS
13-3: 2010 regular season record vs. non-conference opponents
6-4: 2011 regular season record vs. non-conference opponents
7-4: 2011 season record
1-1: 2011 away record
2-4: 2011 record vs. ranked teams
2-3: all-time vs. Nebraska
A GLANCE AT THE CORNHUSKERS
Nebraska comes into the match on a nine-match winning streak, including victories against four ranked teams. The Cornhuskers are 2-1 against Big Ten teams this season, including a 7-0 shutout of then-No. 59 Minnesota on the road in Minneapolis, Minn., March 6.
The team’s ranking peaked two weeks ago when the Cornhuskers were polled at 26th.
Stefanie Weinstein leads Nebraska in dual-match singles victories with 10. The sophomore has won nine in a row while playing matches between the No. 2 and No. 4 positions.
In doubles, the tandem of Weinstein and Madeleine Gilbert is 8-2 at the No. 1 spot and holds the lead in wins. The duo is ranked 76th in the nation.
HISTORY OF THE SERIES
The Buckeyes have faced the Cornhuskers five times since the 1995-96 season, accumulating a 2-3 record. Under current head coach Chuck Merzbacher, Ohio State has compiled a 1-3 record with the win coming at home in 2004. The Buckeyes took that match, 6-1.
The most recent match between the teams was in 2006 at the Newport Beach Tournament in Newport Beach, Calif. Nebraska took the doubles point and three straight sets singles victories to earn the win, 4-0.
Senior Cami Hubbs returns to her home state of Nebraska for the match against the Cornhuskers.
“I haven’t played [in Nebraska] since I played high school tennis, so I’m really excited,” Hubbs said of the trip home. “My brother goes to Nebraska and is one of the biggest Nebraska fans, but he promised he would wear an Ohio State shirt.”
The senior came to Ohio State from Omaha, Neb., just about fifty miles from the Nebraska-Lincoln campus, following an outstanding prep career that saw her compile a 117-0 high school record at Omaha-Westside.
Hubbs isn’t the only Buckeye with connections to Nebraska. Ohio State assistant coach Sadhaf Fath spent a year as an assistant coach with the Cornhuskers during the 2004 season.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
Sophomore Fidan Manashirova leads Ohio State in singles wins (18) this season, followed by classmates Kara Cecil (15) and Gabby Steele (14).
In doubles, the tandem of Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs holds the team lead with 10 wins. The duo is 7-3 at No. 1 doubles this season. Noelle Malley and Kara Cecil are just a win behind Escobedo and Hubbs with nine.
IN THE POLLS
The Buckeyes enter the Nebraska match ranked 45th in the nation according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association polls. The team began the season ranked 33rd before climbing as high as 30th.
Escobedo is ranked sixth in singles in the Midwest region, while junior Kelsey Haviland was polled at No. 15 regionally. The doubles duo of Haviland and sophomore Gabby Steele is ranked fourth in the region.
The tandem of Escobedo and Hubbs ranks 10th regionally.
PUT IT IN THE BOOKS
Seniors Cami Hubbs and Paloma Escobedo are both primed to finish the season near the top of the all-time singles and doubles victories lists. Currently, Hubbs is tied with Ann Wilson (’74-77) for 12th with 67 singles wins. With 64 singles victories, Escobedo is one win shy of tying Ann Beaudoin (’79-81) and Kerry Singer (’94-97) at No. 15.
“Ohio State is full of tradition,” Hubbs, a senior captain, said. “That’s part of the reason I came here. It’s special to be able to leave my mark in the record books.”
In doubles, Hubbs moved into 12th place with her 77th doubles victory against Auburn in the first round of the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic Feb. 25. Erica Fisk (’01-04) is one place ahead of Hubbs with 79 wins.
With a win against Louisville, Escobedo is now in sole possession of 13th after moving ahead of Lindsay Williams (‘01-04) and Angela DiPastina (’06-09), who each earned 76 career doubles wins.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
The Buckeyes have accumulated a 24-4 (.857) record at the No. 4-6 singles positions this season, including a flawless 9-0 ledger at No. 6.
Gabby Steele is 8-1 at No. 4 this season and is currently riding a six-match win streak, second to only Cami Hubbs, who has won eight in a row and has yet to drop a dual match. Fidan Manashirova is 6-0 at No. 5 this season and is 8-1 in her last 10 matches, with one match left unfinished.
LIKE ALL GOOD THINGS…
Fidan Manashirova pushed her win streak to 14 consecutive matches before dropping a 6-1, 6-0 decision to Oklahoma’s Marie-Pier Huet Feb. 27. Her streak was the longest since at least the 2007-08 season for any Buckeye in singles.
The streak began with a victory against Boston University’s Petra Santini at the Big Green Invite Nov. 5, 2010, and included wins against opponents from 13 schools, including teammate Kelsey Becker. Eleven of the 14 victories came in straight sets.
With 18 singles victories this season, the Elk Grove, Calif., native is just one win shy of matching her mark from last year. Manashirova opened her 19-win freshman campaign on a seven-match win streak.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The Buckeyes not only hold a 5-0 home record this season, but the team has also notched three shutouts while playing inside the OSU Varsity Tennis Center. Ohio State opened the season with consecutive 7-0 victories against Cincinnati and Cleveland State Jan. 23 before whitewashing William & Mary at home Feb. 13.
The two non-shutouts were a 6-1 victory against conference foe Penn State Feb. 11 and a 6-1 win against Louisville March 4.
LEADING THE WAY
Ohio State women’s tennis seniors Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs were named captains of the 2011 team, head coach Chuck Merzbacher announced. Along with the two seniors, junior Kelsey Haviland will join the group as an assistant captain.
“All three have been leaders throughout their careers and are committed to taking our program to even higher heights,” Merzbacher said. “They all represent the university, athletics department and team on and off the court with class and sportsmanship. It is going to be a successful year because of their love of Ohio State and our program.”