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Feb. 23, 2007

Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s tennis team (5-3, 0-0 Big Ten) will travel to Kentucky for three matches this weekend. The Buckeyes open play with a neutral-site match against Auburn at 10 a.m. Saturday in Louisville. Sunday, the Buckeyes will play at Louisville at 10 a.m. before heading to Richmond, Ky., to take on Eastern Kentucky at 7:15 p.m.

Last Time Out
The Buckeyes lost two matches to ranked teams last weekend in Williamsburg, Va., falling to No. 58 Marshall, 5-2, last Saturday and to No. 12 William and Mary, 6-1, last Sunday.

Scouting Auburn
The No. 69-ranked Auburn Tigers (3-2, 0-0 SEC) will face Louisville Friday before taking on the Buckeyes Saturday. The squad has wins over Mercer, Florida A&M and Rice. The team’s losses are to No. 27 Texas A&M and No. 3 Georgia Tech.

The Tigers are coached by Tim Gray, who is in his second year with the Tigers and his 12th year as a collegiate head coach. Gray led the Tigers to a 6-18 record last season.

Leading the Tigers is No. 61- ranked freshman Fani Chifchieva from Bulgaria, who is 13-9 on the year.

The last time the Buckeyes faced the Tigers was Feb. 19, 2005, when they won, 5-2, in Columbus. The Buckeyes have a 2-2 all-time record against Auburn.

Scouting Louisville
The No. 75-ranked Cardinals (3-8, 1-1 Big East) will host Auburn Saturday before playing host to the Buckeyes Sunday. Louisville opened the year 3-8, including wins over Iowa, Marquette and Middle Tennessee State. Seven of the team’s eight losses have come to ranked teams, including No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 25 Vanderbilt. The squad lost to No. 30 Kentucky, 6-1, in its last time out.

The Cardinals are coached by Greg Davis, who is in his fifth season with Louisville.

Leading the Cardinals is sophomore Bianca Gorbea, who posted the lone singles win against Kentucky Feb. 20.

The last time the Buckeyes faced the Cardinals was Feb. 25, 2006, when they defeated Louisville 4-3, in Columbus. The Buckeyes have a 5-1 all-time record against UofL. Scouting Eastern Kentucky
The Colonels are 3-4 on the year (0-0 Ohio Valley Conference), with wins over Jacksonville State, Wright State and Cumberland (Ky.). EKU will play at Marshall Saturday before hosting the Buckeyes Sunday.

The Colonels are coached by Rob Oertel, who is in his seventh season at the helm.

Lucia Vojtkova leads the Colonels with a 6-4 record and is on a three-match winning streak.

The last time the Buckeyes faced the Colonels was Feb. 15, 2006, when they won, 6-1, in Columbus. The Buckeyes have a 8-0 all-time record against Eastern Kentucky.

Ahead of the Pack
Leading the Buckeyes in singles wins so far this season is freshman Christina Keesey, who has 12 wins, followed by classmate Ally Mueller and sophomore Julie Voss, who have 11 wins each. Sophomore Angela DiPastina has 10 wins this season.

In the dual season, Keesey, Mueller and Voss are tied with five wins each.

In doubles, sophomore Julie Blackmore has a team-best 11 wins, followed by Keesey with 10 victories.

The Best
The Buckeyes are 7-1 combined at No. 6 singles this season, with their lone loss to Marshall. Julie Voss is 5-0 at the sixth spot, while Angela DiPastina is 2-1.

The squad is 7-1 at No. 2 doubles, with the duo of Caitlin O’Keefe and Sonia Ruzimovsky leading the way with a 6-1 mark.

Another Blank
Four of the Buckeyes’ five wins this season have been 7-0 shutouts. The squad opened the year with three-consecutive whitewashes (vs. Bowling Green, vs. Cincinnati, at West Virginia) and blanked Miami (Ohio) Feb. 11.

Happy 50th
Against Cincinnati Jan. 27, senior Sonia Ruzimovsky posted the 50th singles win of her Buckeye career, as she downed Valeriya Dandik in straight sets (6-1, 6-0). Ruzimovsky is second among current Buckeyes with 52 career wins, behind Kristin Messmer’s 60 victories.

Ruzimovsky has a team career-best 49 doubles wins, followed by Messmer with 46.

The Rooks Make an Impact
The two Buckeye freshmen, Ally Mueller and Christina Keesey, both have played in all eight matches for the Buckeyes so far this spring. Each has a 5-3 ledger in dual matches.

Among the Best
Chuck Merzbacher, Ohio State head coach, has the eighth-ranked recruiting class for 2007, according to rankings compiled by tennisrecruiting.net. The duo of Paloma Escobedo and Cameron Hubbs, who signed NCAA National Letters of Intent in November, will join the Buckeye roster in the fall of 2007.

A panel of junior tennis experts, including journalists, tournament directors, referees and ranking chairmen from across the country, voted on the recruiting classes. Each panelist submitted his/her list of the Top 25 recruiting classes. Schools received 25 points for each first-place vote, 24 points for each second-place vote, down to 1 point for each 25th-place vote.

Escobedo, a native of Houston, Texas, has been ranked as high as 21st nationally among recruits for 2007 and currently is ranked 29th. She is ranked fourth among the gulf states and third in the state of Texas. Escobedo was a member of the Texas Fed Cup team who went undefeated in August at the 2006 UTSA Girl’s 18 Fed Cup Championships and posted a 5-2 record in the same month at the 2006 Girls 18 and Under Super Nationals in San Jose, Calif.

Hubbs, from Omaha, Neb., has been ranked as high as No. 60 in 2007 recruiting lists. She currently is ranked second in the plains states and is first in Nebraska. She is a three-time state champion at Omaha Westside High School. Hubbs is a standout in doubles and has been ranked as high as seventh nationally.

Up Next
Next weekend, the Buckeyes will return home for matches with DePaul and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes and Blue Demons will meet at 5 p.m. Friday (March 2) and the Buckeyes and Badgers will open Big Ten play at 11 a.m. March 4 (Sunday).