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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 31 Ohio State women’s tennis team (3-2) welcomes Penn State and No. 65 William & Mary to the OSU Varsity Tennis Center for a pair of matches Friday and Sunday. The Buckeyes face the Nittany Lions (3-1) in their Big Ten opener Friday at 6 p.m. and the Tribe (3-2) Sunday at 11 a.m.

LOOKING AHEAD
Following the matches against Penn State and Kentucky, the Buckeyes will have a week off before traveling to Montgomery, Ala., to compete in the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic. The team will join squads from Alabama, Auburn, DePaul, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia in the event.

The next home match for Ohio State is March 4 against Louisville. The Buckeyes and the Cardinals face off at 6 p.m. in the OSU Varsity Tennis Center.

OHIO STATE IN THE BOOKS
24-16: all-time vs. Penn State
2-2: all-time vs. William & Mary
5-5: 2010 record vs. Big Ten teams
13-3: 2010 regular season record vs. non-conference opponents
2-0: 2011 home record
3-2: 2011 season record
9-4: Big Ten openers under Merzbacher

BUCKEYES HOST CAMPUS KIDS DAY
As part of the United States Tennis Association’s effort to create stronger ties between junior players and collegiate tennis, the Ohio State men’s and women’s tennis teams will participate in USTA Campus Kids’ Day this weekend.

At the women’s match vs. Penn State at 6 p.m. Friday and the men’s contest vs. LSU at 5 p.m. Saturday, fans will have an opportunity to participate in a variety of activities that will help them become more acquainted with the sport.

A list of promotions and activities include:
Free t-shirts to the first 50 fans
Schedule poster giveaway
Register to win prize pack
Racquet stenciling (Block “O”)
Temporary tattoos
T-shirt toss between singles, doubles matches
Postmatch autographs
Free Donatos pizza and refreshments to children 8th grade and under

THE 2010 NITTANY LIONS
Penn State finished 4-19 last season, including a winless slate in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions are primed for a turnaround this season, beginning the year 3-1. The team will be on the road for the first time in 2011, as all four matches have been at home for Penn State.

The Nittany Lions are led again by Petra Januskova at No. 1. The sophomore from Ottawa, Ontario, is ranked 59th in the nation in singles following a 13-win fall slate. Januskova has carried that success over into dual matches, earning a 3-0 record.

She is also one half of the Nittany Lions’ top doubles duo along with Fernanda Perrotta. The two are 3-1 at No. 1 doubles in 2011.

The Buckeyes have opened Big Ten play against Penn State the past two seasons, taking both matches.

A LOOK AT THE TRIBE
William & Mary opened the 2011 season against four ranked opponents, splitting the matches. On the campus of the University of Florida for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the Tribe dropped a 4-3 match to No. 66 Winthrop before avenging the loss with a 4-3 victory against No. 69 College of Charleston. The squad then returned home to down Richmond, 6-1.

Katie Kargl leads the Tribe in singles victories (4) during dual season, while Anik Cepeda holds the overall singles lead with 12 wins. Cepeda and Hope Johnson are the top doubles tandem for William & Mary. The duo has notched a 4-1 record at No. 1 doubles this season.

A YEAR AGO… PENN STATE
The Buckeyes traveled to University Park, Pa., to take on the Nittany Lions in the 2010 Big Ten opener. Despite being on the road for Big Ten play, Ohio State was firing on all cylinders and took down Penn State, 7-0.

The Buckeyes swept doubles before taking all six singles matches in straight sets for their fifth-consecutive victory against the Nittany Lions.

A YEAR AGO… WILLIAM & MARY
Last year the squads met in Williamsburg, Va., as a part of the Buckeyes’ road trip across Virginia to face the Tribe and the UVA Cavaliers.

The Buckeyes took the doubles point on the strength of doubles victories at No. 1 and No. 3. In singles, Ohio State opened up with two quick, straight sets singles victories to set the score at 3-0.

William & Mary responded with a win on court three, but Escobedo provided one of the marquee moments of the 2010 season for the Buckeyes, diving for a ball on match point to take down Nina Vulovich and clinch the victory for Ohio State.

MOVIN’ ON UP
Ohio State moved up one spot to No. 31 in the Feb. 8 edition of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association polls after battling top-ranked opponents in losses to Tennessee and SMU on the road in Knoxville, Tenn.

TOP OF THE CHARTS
Sophomore Fidan Manashirova leads the team in singles wins (14) this season, followed by classmate Kara Cecil with 12 victories. Manashirova has won 11 consecutive matches, beginning with a victory against Boston University’s Petra Santini at the Big Green Invite Nov. 5, 2010, against opponents from eight schools, including teammate Kelsey Becker. Ten of the 11 victories have been in straight sets for the sophomore from Elk Grove, Calif.

In doubles, the tandems of Noelle Malley and Kara Cecil and Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs share the team lead with six wins. Escobedo and Hubbs are 3-1 at No. 1 doubles this season.

IN THE POLLS
Junior Kelsey Haviland is the lone nationally ranked Buckeye in singles, sneaking into the final spot at No. 125, and is rated No. 15 in the Midwest Region. She is also one-half of the 50th-ranked doubles duo, joining sophomore Gabby Steele. The tandem is ranked No. 4 in the Midwest.

The senior twosome of Cami Hubbs and Paloma Escobedo appears just below Steele and Haviland at No. 64 nationally and No. 10 in the Midwest. Escobedo begins the season ranked No. 6 in singles in the Midwest Region.

The team began last season ranked 38th in the nation before reaching a program-record No. 17 ranking in February.

New singles and doubles rankings will be available Feb. 14.

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.”

BUCKEYES RALLY TO TAKE DOWN KENTUCKY, 4-3
The No. 31 Ohio State women’s tennis team improved to 3-2 with a 4-3 victory against the Kentucky Wildcats (0-4) on the road at the Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday evening. The Buckeyes bounced back from an early 2-0 deficit by taking four of the six singles matches for the comeback victory.

The win marked the first time the Buckeyes have earned consecutive wins against the Wildcats since notching a 4-0 record against Kentucky from 1975-82.

“It was a battle and our team never stopped fighting,” Ohio State head coach Chuck Merzbacher said of the close victory. “The key was Paloma (Escobedo) getting to a third set on court one and keeping the momentum from going completely in Kentucky’s favor. It really helped Fidan (Manashirova) and Cami (Hubbs) on courts five and six. Kentucky has one of the toughest buildings in the country. It was a really good road win.”

UK opened the match by taking the doubles point after a sweep of all three matches. The point didn’t come easily for the Wildcats, however, as two of the matches went to a tiebreaker and the third was an 8-6 decision.

Kentucky’s duo of Khristina Blajkevitch and CeCe Witten took its match on court two against Kelsey Haviland and Gabby Steele, 8-6. The Wildcats then clinched with Megan Broderick and Jessica Stile’s 9-8 (1) win against Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs at No. 1.

On court three, the tandem of Caitlin McGraw and Testerman completed the UK sweep with its own 9-8 (5) victory against Kara Cecil and Noelle Malley.

Kentucky pulled ahead to a 2-0 lead after Stiles wrapped up a straight sets win against Haviland 6-1, 6-1 on court two. The Buckeyes roared back to tie the match at 2 apiece following Cecil’s 6-0, 6-1 victory against Blajkevicth on court three and Steele’s 6-0, 6-3 effort on court four.

Despite a thrilling second set tiebreaker win to stay alive on court one, Escobedo couldn’t complete the comeback against Broderick, falling 1-6, 7-6 (5), 1-6.

With Ohio State down 3-2, Hubbs, a senior captain, rallied back from a 5-3 deficit in the second set to take the set and the match, 6-4, 7-5, against Witten on court six.

Ohio State’s Manashirova closed the door on the upset victory for the Wildcats after defeating McGraw in three sets 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 on court five. The sophomore has now won 11-consecutive matches.