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April 12, 2005

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Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s tennis team continues its four-match Big Ten road swing with a pair of contests this weekend in the state of Michigan. The Buckeyes (6-15, 1-5 Big Ten) take on Michigan at 11 a.m. Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich., then face Michigan State Sunday at 10 a.m. in East Lansing, Mich.

Scouting Michigan
The No. 36 Wolverines (9-9, 4-3 Big Ten) are coached by Bitsy Ritt.

No. 53 Michelle DaCosta plays No. 1 singles for Michigan. She has accumulated an 8-10 record there this spring.

In doubles, DaCosta and Kara Delicata form the nation’s No. 21-ranked tandem and have a 13-4 record in dual action.

Michigan leads the all-time series against the Buckeyes, 29-13. Ohio State’s last win came in 2003, a 4-3 victory in Columbus.

Scouting Michigan State
The No. 74 Spartans (11-8, 1-6) are coached by Tim Bauer.

No. 121 Keri Thompson plays at the top of Michigan State’s singles lineup, where she is 9-9 this spring.

In doubles, Thompson and Christine Bader hold down the No. 1 position, where they are 10-6.

Ohio State leads the all-time series with the Spartans, 22-12, including a 4-3 victory in East Lansing last season.

Last Weekend
Ohio State dropped a pair of matches last weekend at Indiana and at Penn State. Sonia Ruzimovsky (Soph., Brooklyn, N.Y./Brooklyn Tech) and Caitlin O’Keefe ((Fr., Troy, Mich./Troy), the Buckeyes’ Top Two in singles wins this spring, both picked up singles victories for Ohio State in its 4-3 loss to Purdue Sunday.

Ruzimovsky, who moved up to the No. 2 singles position for the first time in her collegiate career, picked up her 11th win of the spring season by sweeping Sarah Spence, 7-5, 6-3. O’Keefe’s 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (8), win over Sasha Abraham at the No. 3 spot was her ninth win of the spring.

O’Keefe also picked up a doubles victory against the Nittany Lions when she and Lindsay Bryan (Sr., New Orleans, La./Ursuline Academy) overcame a 5-1 deficit to down Jessica McKeown and Andrea Niculescu, 8-5 to clinch the doubles point for the Buckeyes.

Another Double-dip Up North
This is the second season in a row in which Ohio State will travel to the state of Michigan for a pair of weekend matches. Last season, the Buckeyes dropped a 7-0 decision at No. 19 Michigan one day after knocking off Michigan State, 4-3. In the win against the Spartans, the Buckeyes dropped the doubles point but got wins at the Top 4 singles positions to take the match. Included among those wins was a straight-set victory at No. 3 by current Buckeye and 2004 MVP Emily DeCamilla (Sr., Sacramento, Calif./Maryland).

Streaking Against the Spartans
Ohio State has won its last eight meetings with Michigan State, with all of those wins coming with current coach Chuck Merzbacher at the helm for the Buckeyes.

Ruzimovsky Notches 20 Wins
Sonia Ruzimovsky earned her 20th singles win of the season against Minnesota. The sophomore leads Ohio State with a record of 21-11, including a 11-6 dual match record this spring.

She is the first Buckeye to reach 20 wins in a season since 2003, when Sadhaf Pervez and Jackie Leskovar each accomplished the feat. In addition, Ruzimovsky is the first Buckeye sophomore to win at least 20 matches in a season since Erica Fisk and Lindsay Williams won 22 and 21 matches, respectively, in 2002.

Vincent Tops In Doubles Wins
Meredith Vincent has an overall doubles record of 15-12 this season, which leads Ohio State.

She also is part of the Buckeyes’ leading doubles team, having earned eight wins when paired with fellow-senior Emily DeCamilla.

O’Keefe Comes on Strong
Ohio State freshman Caitlin O’Keefe has tallied 12 doubles wins this season while playing with seven different partners. She is the first Buckeye freshman to achieve more than 10 doubles victories since Erica Fisk won 15 matches in 2001.

In addition to her doubles performance, O’Keefe is tied with Kristin Messmer for second on the team in singles wins with 14.

Buckeyes Break Doubles Trend
Ohio State’s win at Minnesota was the first this season in which the Buckeyes won the match without winning the doubles point. The Buckeyes are 1-13 this season when losing the doubles point and 4-2 when winning it. Doubles were not played in Ohio State’s win at Saint Louis because injuries forced the Billikens to compete with only four players.

OSU Owns Buckeye State
Including a trio of 7-0 in-state wins this season over Cleveland State, Youngstown State and Akron, Ohio State is 18-0 against Ohio teams since coach Chuck Merzbacher took over the program prior to the 1996-97 season.

Merzbacher Reaches 250 Wins
Ohio State’s win over Cleveland State marked a milestone for head coach Chuck Merzbacher.

The 7-0 victory was Merzbacher’s 250th in his now 16-plus years as a college head coach.

Since beginning his career at 1989-90 at Northern Illinois, Merzbacher is 255-169.

Freshmen Get It Going In Fall
A trio of Ohio State freshmen earned their first collegiate singles wins during the fall season.

Caitlin O’Keefe earned a three-set victory over Emily Vest of Middle Tennessee State, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, for her first win Sept. 17 in Knoxville, Tenn., in the first round of the University of Tennessee/St. Mary’s Fall Classic.

The following weekend at the Kentucky Fall Classic in Lexington, Ky., Silvia Prajescu beat Alex de Guzman of William and Mary, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, for her first victory.

On Oct. 10 at the Eck Classic in South Bend, Ind., it was Nidhi Shah’s (Fr., Mumbai, India/Mithibai College) turn to break into the win column, topping Virginia’s Dora Bechliwanis in an eight-game pro set, 8-6.

Recruiting News
The Buckeyes have signed two student-athletes, Julie Blackmore, a senior at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Julie Voss, a senior from San Angelo, Texas, who attends St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, to NCAA National Letters of Intent to attend Ohio State and join the Buckeyes’ tennis team beginning in Fall 2005.

Blackmore is ranked No. 47 in the nation and No. 11 in Florida in the Girls’ Under-18 USTA rankings. She is a three-time state champion in singles and doubles in Division 2A and reached the Round of 16 in singles and the quarterfinals in doubles at the National Clay Courts meet in Memphis, Tenn., earlier this year. Blackmore, whose father, Bob, is an Ohio State alumnus, also is on the honor roll.

Voss, who plays for St. Stephen’s Tennis Academy, has been ranked in the Top 10 in Texas since age 10 and is ranked No. 9 in the state in the Girls’ Under-18 age group. She has been ranked as high as No. 14 nationally and recently advanced to the round of 16 of the International Tennis Federation tournament in El Paso, Texas. Voss also is a top student and a talented musician.

Adams, O’Keefe, Ruzimovsky Succeed At ITA Midwest Regional
Three Buckeyes stood out Oct. 21-23 at the ITA Midwest Regional tournament in Minneapolis, Minn.

In singles, Sonia Ruzimovsky won three matches, over Mallory Stemle of IUPUI (6-1, 6-1), Pavlina Akritas of Illinois (6-2, 6-2) and Reedhina Parekh of Western Michigan (6-2, 5-7, 6-4), to qualify for the 64-player main draw.

In doubles, senior Lindsey Adams and freshman Caitlin O’Keefe teamed up to advance to the Round of 16 with victories over Minnesota’s Jane Anderson and Nischela Reddy, 8-3, in round one before beating Michelle Cunningham and Mallory Stemle of IUPU by an 8-4 margin in round two. O’Keefe and Adams were knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals after dropping a close 9-7 decision to Lindsay Martin and Katie McGaffigan of Wisconsin.

Messmer and Ruzimovsky Lead Way at Eck Classic
Sonia Ruzimovsky led the Buckeyes last weekend at the Eck Classic in South Bend, Ind., by winning seven total matches. Sunday, Ruzimovsky and Kristin Messmer combined to beat Virginia’s Lauren Brech and Rachel Del Priore, 8-2, to close out a perfect 4-0 doubles weekend that also included wins over Notre Dame’s Liz Donohoe and Bailey Louderback, 8-1, Michigan State’s Pascale Schnitzer and Karen Gustafson, 8-2, and Kansas’ Luiza Loureiro and Stephanie Smith, 8-3.

In singles, Ruzimovsky beat Loureiro in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0, Friday, Schnitzer in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, Saturday and Bruch,2-6, 7-6, 1-0(3), on Sunday.

Kentucky Fall Tournament Recap
The Buckeyes faced stiff competition Oct. 1-3 at the Kentucky Fall Classic in Lexington, Ky. Competing on the Wildcats’ home courts, Ohio State was led by the senior tandem of Lindsay Bryan and Meredith Vincent, who claimed the title in the green flight. In the flight championship match, Bryan and Vincent (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Virginia Tech) beat host Kentucky’s Foster and Sober, 9-7. The Buckeye duo reached the final with a pair of 8-6 victories over Marshall and White of Louisville and Yan and de Guzman of William and Mary.

Silvia Prajescu and Kristin Messmer led the Buckeyes in singles, both posting three victories against just one defeat.

Youngsters Lead Singles at Tennessee
Competing for the first time since losing four seniors from the 2003-04 squad to graduation, the Buckeyes were led by a pair of underclassmen who both earned a pair of victories at the University of Tennessee/St. Mary’s Fall Classic Sept. 17-19 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Sophomore Sonia Ruzimovsky and freshman Caitlin O’Keefe earned third place finishes with Day Three victories in their flights. Competing in Flight Six, Ruzimovsky swept Bonnie Baird of Furman, 7-6, 6-1, for her second victory of the weekend while O’Keefe earned her second win by topping fellow-Buckeye Lindsay Bryan, 6-5, 6-4, in Flight Three. Ruzimovsky also dispatched Alisha Talbot of Wake Forest and O’Keefe beat Emily Vest of Middle Tennessee State in first round action.

Returnees See Doubles Success
In contrast to singles action at Tennessee, Ohio State’s doubles play was dominated by upperclassmen. The senior doubles team of Emily DeCamilla and Lindsey Adams picked up two wins, a number matched by another upperclassmen duo, Emily Howard and Meredith Vincent.

DeCamilla and Adams beat Marti Morris and Mary Neill Hagood of Furman, 9-7, on Day Two to earn fifth place in Flight One. They also topped Barbara Orlay and Julia Roach of North Carolina State previously.

Vincent and Howard defeated Emily Vest and Claudia Szabo of Middle Tennessee State, 8-4, in Round One of Flight Three and teammates Silvia Prajescu and Lindsay Bryan in a third place match.

Next Up
After facing the Spartans, Ohio State concludes the regular season when it plays host to Northwestern and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes face the defending Big Ten Champion and No. 3-ranked Wildcats at 11 a.m. April 23 and the Badgers at 11 a.m. April 24. Both matches will be played at either the Jesse Owens West Tennis Center (indoor) or Stickney Tennis Center (outdoor) in Columbus, Ohio.