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Sept. 15, 2004

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Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s tennis team opens its fall season Friday at the University of Tennessee/St. Mary’s Fall Classic in Knoxville, Tenn. Action in singles and doubles begins Friday and continues through Sunday.

St. Mary’s Draw
Joining the Buckeyes in Knoxville for the weekend are fellow Big Ten member Purdue, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State and host Tennessee.

Last Year at St. Mary’s
Ohio State’s first tournament of the 2003-04 campaign included two flight titles. In singles, Lindsay Adams (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island), then a junior, was 3-0 for the weekend. On her way to winning Flight Seven, Adams defeated Seva Iwinski of Texas A&M, Erin Cohn of host Tennessee and Tanya Markovic of North Carolina.

In doubles, the tandem of departed-senior Lindsay Williams and then-freshman Sonia Ruzimovsky (Brooklyn, N.Y./Brooklyn Tech) were winners of Flight Two. After narrowly defeating Wake Forest’s Danielle Schwartz and Alexandra Hirsch in the opening round of the tournament (9-7), the OSU duo topped Roberta Spencer and Lauren Walker of Texas A&M in the second. They beat Sara Anudsen and Caitlin Collins of North Carolina to claim the flight title.

MVP DeCamilla Leads Returnees
Emily DeCamilla (Sr., Sacramento, Calif./Maryland) led the team with 18 wins, mostly at the No. 4 position, last season on her way to being named the team’s Most Valuable Player. Merzbacher said she is the leading candidate to play at the top of the lineup after a determined summer of hard work.

Following DeCamilla will likely be fellow seniors Lindsey Adams (Sr., Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island) and Lindsay Bryan (Sr., New Orleans, La./Ursuline Academy). Adams was a consistent performer throughout the middle of the lineup for the entire season, finishing tied with DeCamilla with 18 wins. In the last month of the 2004 season, Bryan entered the lineup at No. 6 and won six matches while losing only once.

Ready to Step Up
As a freshman, Kristin Messmer (So., Lutherville, Md./McDonogh) started 19 matches and led the team in victories for much of the season before giving way to Bryan. Merzbacher said he thought Messmer was not adjusted to the grind of a college season and wore down toward the end of last year, but he expects her to come back strong in her sophomore campaign.

As candidates to fill the remaining spots, Merzbacher mentioned senior Meredith Vincent (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Virginia Tech) and sophomores Anna Volberg (So.,Toledo, Ohio/St. Ursula) and Sonia Ruzimovsky (So., Brooklyn, N.Y.,/Brooklyn Technical). Vincent is in her second year at Ohio State, but has previous experience playing at the top of the lineup during two years at Virginia Tech. Volberg, a former Ohio state champion in high school, and Ruzimovsky, undefeated in high school and former No. 1 ranked player in New York City, both fought injuries as freshmen but should be ready for the spring season.

Four Newcomers Welcomed
Caitlin O’Keefe (Fr., Troy, Mich./Troy), a four-time state champion in Michigan, headlines Merzbacher’s 2004 recruiting class and is one who will expect to challenge for a spot in the starting lineup. Along with O’Keefe, the Buckeyes welcome Silvia Prajescu (Dollard-Des-Orneaux, Quebec/Des-Sources), Nidhi Shah (Mumbai, India/Mithibai College) and Sara Kinning (Grand Blanc, Mich./Powers Catholic).

Prajescu was ranked No. 5 in Canada for Under-16 in 2002 and finished in the Top 10 at the Under-16 Singles National Indoor Championships in Canada while Shah has been ranked as high as 274 in singles and 276 in doubles by the International Tennis Federation, the world governing body of tennis. Kinning is a walk-on Merzbacher expects to add depth.

Previewing the Schedule
After opening the 2004 fall season, as they did in 2003, at the St. Mary’s/University of Tennessee Fall Classic, Sept. 17-19, in Knoxville, Tenn., Ohio State also will make a return trip to the University of Kentucky Fall Tournament October 1-3 in Lexington, Ky. Two new tournaments appear on the schedule, the Notre Dame Fall Invitational Oct. 7-10 in South Bend, Ind., and the Milwaukee Tennis Classic Nov. 3-8 at Milwaukee, Wis.

The 2005 spring season kicks off Jan. 23 as the Buckeyes play host to perennial power Notre Dame at noon and in-state foe Cleveland State at 6 p.m. Those matches are the first of a seven-match homestand, the Buckeyes’ longest since 2002.

Ohio State’s 24th season of Big Ten play begins with a match against Iowa at 3 p.m. March 25 in Iowa City, Iowa. After a facing Minnesota on March 27 in Minneapolis, Minn., Ohio State plays host to Illinois on April 2 and Purdue April 3, before embarking on its longest road trip of the year. The four-team trip sees the Buckeyes travel to Penn State, Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State between April 8 and April 17. The regular season concludes with home matches against defending Big Ten champion Northwestern April 23 and Wisconsin April 24.

Among the Buckeyes’ 25 matches are 12 with 2004 NCAA Championship qualifiers.

Home Cooking
Once the spring season begins, Ohio State will hope to continue its recent dominance at home, where it has won at a .750 percentage over the past two seasons. In only nine home matches a year ago, the Buckeyes posted a 7-2 record, with both losses coming at the hands of teams ranked in the Top 20.

Recapping Last Season
The Buckeyes were 7-2 on their home courts and secured a program-record sixth consecutive NCAA bid with a run to the final match at the Big Ten championship. By virtue of their runner-up finish at the Big Ten championship, the Buckeyes finished second in the final conference standings.

Once in the NCAA tournament, the Buckeyes marked another milestone by defeating host Harvard, 4-2, to advance to the second round, where they were defeated by No. 17 Kentucky. In the win against Harvard, the Buckeyes won the doubles point for the 15th time in 2004 and a got a trio of three-set singles victories. Jackie Leskovar and Lindsay Bryan (Jr., New Orleans, La./Ursuline Academy) scored victories at the No. 3 and No. 6 positions, respectively, before Emily DeCamilla (Jr., Sacramento, Calif./Maryland) earned the clincher at No. 4. The win was the second in school history in the NCAA championship. The Buckeyes defeated Miami (Fla.), 5-3, in 2000 in Athens, Ga.

Next Up
After concluding play in Knoxville, the Buckeyes return to action Oct. 1-3 at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., for the University of Kentucky Fall Tournament.