COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 62nd-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team will face a pair of opponents on the road in Indiana this weekend to wrap up the 2011 regular season. The Scarlet and Gray sit in third place in the Big Ten standings entering the weekend.
The Buckeyes (13-9, 6-2 Big Ten) take on Indiana at 11 a.m. Saturday in Bloomington, Ind., before facing No. 68 Purdue at noon Sunday in West Lafayette, Ind.
Following the road swing this weekend, the Scarlet and Gray will prepare for the Big Ten tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., April 28 – May 1. With a 6-2 record, the Buckeyes have guaranteed a Top 5 finish in the regular season standings and a first-round bye in the tournament.
You can follow all of the action of Ohio State women’s tennis on Twitter (@OhioState_WTEN) or “Like” the Buckeyes’ page on Facebook at facebook.com/OhioStateWomensTennis.
OHIO STATE IN THE BOOKS
13-9: 2011 season record
6-2: 2011 Big Ten record
2-4: 2011 road record
3-9: 2011 record vs. nationally ranked teams
8-30: all-time vs. Indiana
23-20: all-time vs. Purdue
A GLANCE AT THE HOOSIERS
Indiana sits at 2-6 in the Big Ten this season, tied with Penn State for eighth. Those two teams will face off Sunday following Ohio State’s match against the Hoosiers. IU began the season 10-2, but dropped in a six-game losing slide through the beginning of Big Ten season before recovering with wins against Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Leslie Hureau leads the team in singles. Hureau, the 62nd-ranked singles player in the country, has racked up 22 wins, including an 11-8 mark at No. 1 this year. She is joined in the rankings by Evgeniya Vertesheva, the No. 115 singles player. Vertesheva leads the team in singles wins with 24 and a 6-2 mark in conference play.
Hureau and Myriam Sopel are ranked 48th in the nation in doubles, playing mostly at No. 1 this season, where the duo has a 6-5 record. Evgeniya and Kayla Fujimoto have earned 23 doubles wins this season and lead the team with a 5-3 Big Ten record.
Last year, Ohio State defeated Indiana, 4-3, on the road. The last loss against the Hoosiers came in a 4-3 decision is 2008.
PREVIEWING THE BOILERMAKERS
Purdue is tied with Illinois for fourth in the Big Ten at 5-3 in conference action.
Imogen Golder leads the Boilermakers in singles wins this season with 13 and a 6-2 mark in the Big Ten. Jennifer Rabot leads the team at the top of the singles lineup. Rabot earned a 6-1, 6-3 upset victory against Northwestern’s Maria Mosolova, who was ranked 13th in the country at the time, in Purdue’s 6-1 loss April 17.
Mara Schmidt and Rabot form the 54th-ranked doubles tandem in the nation. The Boilermaker duo has appeared in each edition of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s rankings.
In 2010, Purdue upset Ohio State, 4-3, at home in West Lafayette, Ind.
SHAPE OF THE BIG TEN
With a pair of wins this weekend, Ohio State will finish third in the conference, the best since the Buckeyes claimed a second-place finish in 2004. An 8-2 Big Ten record would be the best for the Scarlet and Gray since the team tied for first with a 9-1 record in 2000.
Michigan and Northwestern sit atop the conference leaderboard. The Wolverines are 9-0 entering the final weekend, while Northwestern follows closely with an 8-0 conference record. After Ohio State in third, Purdue and Illinois are tied for fourth at 5-3.
Wisconsin and Iowa each hold a 3-5 conference record and remain tied at sixth. Indiana and Penn State share eighth place with a 2-6 record. Minnesota and Michigan State are 10th and 11th, respectively.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
Sophomore Fidan Manashirova leads the Buckeyes in singles wins this season with 24, followed by classmates Gabby Steele and Kara Cecil, who have racked up 20 and 19 victories, respectively. The doubles tandem of Cecil and Noelle Malley holds the team lead in doubles victories with 14.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The Buckeyes were 10-2 at home this season, and notched three shutouts while playing inside the OSU Varsity Tennis Center. OSU won those 10 matches by a combined score of 60-10.
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.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
The Buckeyes have accumulated a 44-17 (.721) record at the No. 4-6 singles positions this season, including a 15-5 ledger at No. 6. Twelve of the 15 victories at No. 6 have come in straight sets for the Buckeyes.
Gabby Steele is 9-1 at No. 4 this season while Fidan Manashirova is 6-1 at No. 5. Manashirova, Cami Hubbs, Tiffany Dittmer and Noelle Malley have combined to post a 15-5 record at No. 6. Dittmer scored the first dual-match victory of her collegiate career March 20 against South Florida’s Kate Parker. Malley notched her first dual-match victory March 25 against Cassandra Escobar of Iowa in Ohio State’s 6-1 win.
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 joins 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.”
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 24 singles victories this season, the Elk Grove, Calif., native has passed her mark of 19 victories as a freshman last year. Manashirova opened her 19-win rookie campaign on a seven-match win streak.
GETTING IT DONE
With wins against Iowa and Illinois March 25 and 27, the 2011 Buckeyes became the first Ohio State squad to defeat both teams in the regular season since 2002. That version of the Scarlet and Gray downed both teams at home, 5-2.
As the senior Buckeyes wrap up their collegiate careers, here are some fun facts on the duo of Cami Hubbs and Paloma Escobedo:
Hubbs and Escobedo kicked off their collegiate careers with a bang, landing themselves at the top of the Ohio State singles and doubles wins list for freshmen. Hubbs sits atop the singles wins list with 36 victories and the doubles wins list with 28 wins. Escobedo is second on the doubles list with 27 victories. Hubbs’ 36 wins as a freshman are also the most in a season for any Buckeye.
Both have earned team Most Valuable Player honors as a Buckeye. Hubbs picked up the award following her record-breaking 2008 campaign and Escobedo earned the accolade in 2010.
With 75 career singles victories, Hubbs is eighth in the Ohio State record book. Her 80 career doubles victories put her in a tie for 10th place with Yvonne Lohrer (1985-88). Escobedo, Hubbs’ doubles partner this year, has recorded 78 career doubles wins, good for 13th all-time. Escobedo’s 65 singles victories tie her with Ann Beaudoin (1979-81) for 16th.
Hubbs has competed in doubles in every Big Ten match since joining the team. Escobedo has played no lower than No. 2 singles in her collegiate career and before this season had not missed singles competition in a Big Ten match.
Escobedo and Hubbs have been a part of 65 team wins so far. That total follows only the 2003 senior class (66 wins) and the 2010 senior class (70 wins). The duo played a part in breaking multiple team records. Last year, the Buckeyes set records for most wins (20), most shutouts (10), most consecutive shutouts (four) and highest team ranking (17).
The seniors are the first class since 2005 to compete in at least three NCAA tournaments. Escobedo and Hubbs helped the Buckeyes win their first NCAA tournament game since 2004 last year when Ohio State defeated DePaul, 4-1, in the first round.