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April 25, 2006

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COLUMBUS, Ohio– The Ohio State women’s tennis team (13-12; 3-7 Big Ten) returns to action this week at the Big Ten Championship held in Champaign, Ill. In first round action, the Buckeyes face Illinois (7-14; 2-8 Big Ten) at 11 a.m. EDT Thursday at the Atkins Tennis Center. The winner of the contest moves on to face No. 2-seed Iowa (17-4; 9-1 Big Ten) at 3 p.m. EDT Friday.

Big Ten Championship Layout
All 11 conference teams qualify for the Big Ten championship, with the winning team earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Top 5 teams in the tournament receive byes in the first round. The regular season champion Northwestern Wildcats are the No. 1-seed, followed by No. 2 Iowa, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Indiana and No. 5 Purdue.

First round action begins Thursday with three matches. No 7-seed Ohio State takes on No. 10-seed Illinois, No. 6 Michigan State faces No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 8 Penn State squares off against No. 9 Minnesota.

The semifinals take place at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday with the championship at noon Sunday.

A Look at Illinois
The Fighting Illini are led by Sujay Lama, who led Illinois to a 12-11 overall record a year ago while finishing tied for fifth in the Big Ten at 6-5 in the conference.

Illinois currently is 7-14 overall and 2-8 in the conference. The Fighting Illini are led by Macall Harkins who is 19-13 in singles and ranked No. 63 in the latest Fila Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

Ohio State is 11-22 all-time when facing Illinois, including a 5-2 victory April 2 in Champaign.

The last time these schools met in the Big Ten tournament, the Buckeyes won in a second round meeting, 4-2, April 30, 2004.

Scouting No. 2-Seed Iowa
The Hawkeyes are led by Daryl Greenan, who is in his second year as head coach at Iowa. The Hawkeyes finished last year with a 14-10 overall record while finishing fourth in the Big Ten at 8-4 in the conference.

Iowa is currently 17-4 overall and 9-1 in the conference. The Hawkeyes are led by Meg Racette, who is 25-8 in overall singles and is ranked No. 37 in the latest Fila ITA rankings. Their leading doubles team is the duo of Racette and Jacqueline Lee at 16-6 overall on the season.

Ohio State is 13-19 all-time when facing Iowa, including a 4-3 loss to the Hawkeyes March 26 in Columbus.

The last meeting between the schools in the Big Ten tournament came in a semifinal match up May 1, 2004. The Buckeyes won the match, 4-3, to advance to the championship.

Buckeyes In The Big Ten Tournament A Year Ago
Last season, the No. 9-seed Buckeyes fell in the first round to No. 8-seed Penn State, 4-1.

Ohio State won the doubles point, but was swept in singles.

Last Time Out
Last weekend, the Buckeyes dropped a pair of Big Ten matches to close out the regular season. Ohio State was defeated by the Wisconsin Badgers, 5-2, April 22, then fell to Northwestern, 7-0, April 23. In their match against Wisconsin, the Badgers won all three doubles matches to clinch the doubles point and take a 1-0 lead in the match. At No. 1, Caitlin O’Keefe (So., Troy, Mich./Troy) and Julie Blackmore (Fr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) were defeated by Elizabeth Carpenter and Kaylan Caiati, 8-3. At No. 3, Ciara Finucane (Jr., Dublin, Ireland/Georgia Southern) and Kristin Messmer (Jr., Lutherville, Md./McDonogh) lost to Nicole Beck and Erin Jobe, 8-6. In the final doubles match to finish, the Buckeye duo of Angela DiPastina (Fr., Titusville, N.J.) and Sonia Ruzimovsky (Jr., Brooklyn N.Y./Brooklyn Tech) was downed by Morgan Tuttle and Chelsea Nusslock, 8-5, at the No. 2 spot.

The Buckeyes won the first two singles matches off the court to take a 2-1 lead. Finucane beat Beck, 6-0, 4-0 (ret.), at No. 4 and Ruzimovsky followed with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Caiati at the No. 2 position. Wisconsin’s Caitlin Burke tied the match at 2-all with a victory over O’Keefe, 7-5, 6-0, at the No. 1 spot. Ohio State’s DiPastina then fell to Tuttle, 6-2, 7-5, at the No. 6 spot. Wisconsin clinched the match at the No. 5 spot as Messmer fell to Carpenter in three sets, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2. At No. 3, Blackmore was defeated by Nusslock, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5).

Against the Wildcats, Northwestern won all three doubles matches to clinch the doubles point. At No. 1, O’Keefe and DiPastina fell to No. 11-ranked Alexis Prousis and Cristelle Grier, 8-5. At No. 2, Ruzimovsky and Blackmore were defeated by Feriel Esseghir and Georgia Rose by the score of 8-5. At No. 3, Finucane and Messmer lost to Nazlie Ghazal and Jamie Peisel, 8-3.

In singles at No. 1, Ruzimovsky lost to No. 13-ranked Grier, 6-1, 6-0. At No. 2, O’Keefe was defeated by No. 42-ranked Rose, 6-0, 6-0. At the No. 3 spot, Blackmore fell to No. 36-ranked Prousis in a tie-breaker, 6-2, 5-6, 1-0 (7). At No. 4, Finucane was defeated by Esseghir, 6-1, 6-2. DiPastina fell to Ghazal, 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (2), at No. 5. Finally, at No. 6, Julie Voss was downed by Alexis Conill, 6-3, 6-4.

Leaders Heading Into The Tournament
With the regular season in the books, freshman Angela DiPastina leads the Buckeyes in singles with 20 overall victories. Junior Kristin Messmer is only one win off the lead with 19 victories.

In doubles, Ciara Finucane leads the way with 22 overall individual victories. The leading doubles team is the duo of Finucane and Messmer who are now 19-11 overall on the season.

Doubles Point Is Deciding Factor
The doubles point seemed to be the deciding factor for the Buckeyes this year. Ohio State won the doubles point in all 13 of its wins while dropping the point to the opposition in all 12 of its losses.

Dual Match Leaders
In the spring, the Buckeyes had three players total 14 dual-match victories- all three juniors, Ciara Finucane, Kristin Messmer and Sonia Ruzimovsky.

Finucane and Messmer are the leading doubles team at 14-9 in the spring.

Oh So Close
The Buckeyes were only five points from being 18-7 this season as the Buckeyes were edged 4-3 five times in the 2005-06 campaign. Ohio State fell by one point at Virginia Tech, Feb. 18, vs. New Mexico, March 4, vs. Iowa, March 26, vs. Indiana, April 9 and last weekend vs. Michigan State, April 16.

Leading Spots Of The Lineup
The No. 2 spot was the leading singles spot in the lineup this season for the Buckeyes going 17-8 in duals. On the doubles side, the No. 3 spot had the best record at 15-9 on the season.