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April 5, 2005

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s tennis team takes to the road again this weekend for a pair of conference matches. The Buckeyes (6-13, 1-3 Big Ten) travel to Indiana at 3 p.m. Friday to take on the Hoosiers in Bloomington, Ind., then face Penn State at noon Sunday in State College, Pa.

Scouting Indiana
Coach Lin Loring’s Hoosiers are 10-8 overall and 4-1 in Big Ten play.

Dora Vastag plays atop both the singles and doubles lineup for the Hoosiers. She has posted an 8-10 record at the No. 1 position in singles, while teaming with Cecile Perton in doubles. Playing at the No. 3 spot, Perton and Vastag have amassed a team-leading record of 10-5.

Indiana leads the all-time series with the Buckeyes, 26-5, including a 4-3 win by the Hoosiers last season in Bloomington. Ohio State’s last win in the series was a 5-2 decision March 30, 2003, in Columbus.

Scouting Penn State
The Nittany Lions (5-9, 0-5 Big Ten) are coached by Buffy Baker.

Baker’s squad is led in singles victories by freshman Jenny Shular. Shular is 12-3 on the season while splitting time between the Nos. 5 and 6 positions.

In doubles, Maaria Husain and Sarah Spence generally fill the No. 1 position, where they have posted a 4-8 dual record this spring.

Ohio State leads the all-time series with the Nittany Lions, 19-14, including a pair of Buckeye victories last season. The Buckeyes opened the 2004 Big Ten season with a 7-0 victory in Columbus, then opened the Big Ten championship by edging Penn State, 4-3, in the first round.

Last Weekend
Kristin Messmer (Soph., Lutherville, Md./McDonogh) was the only multiple match winner of the weekend for the Ohio State women’s tennis team as it lost to Illinois Saturday, 5-2, and Purdue Sunday, 6-1.

Playing at the No. 5 position against the Fighting Illini, Messmer swept Alejandra Cuadra, 6-3, 6-3. Messmer also won in doubles, combining with Sonia Ruzimovsky (Soph., Brooklyn, N.Y./Brooklyn Tech) to defeat Illinois’ Momei Qu and Pavlina Akritas, 8-5, at the No. 3 spot.

Sunday against the Boilermakers, Caitlin O’Keefe (Fr., Troy, Mich./Troy) rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the first set of her match with Brooke Beier to win, 6-4, 6-0, at the No. 4 position. The Buckeyes dropped a pair of three-set matches that included tie-breakers to set the final margin. In doubles, Ohio State’s Emily DeCamilla (Sr., Sacramento, Calif./Maryland) and Meredith Vincent (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Virginia Tech) picked up their first doubles win in conference action this season by downing Beier and Stephanie Wooten, 8-6, at No. 2.

Changing Places
The 2005 spring season is the first since 2001 in which the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are not meeting in the conference opener.

Recent Series History Good for Buckeyes

Ohio State is 9-0 against Penn State in the regular season under coach Chuck Merzbacher. The Buckeyes’ only loss to the Nittany Lions during Merzbacher’s tenure came in the first round of the Big Ten Championship in 1997, Merzbacher’s first season leading Ohio State.

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 20-10, including a 10-5 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 14-11 this season, which leads Ohio State.

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

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 1-10 this season when losing the doubles point and 4-1 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 255-164.

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 Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes will continue their road trip with matches at Michigan at 11 a.m. April 16 in Ann Arbor, Mich., and at Michigan State at 10 a.m. April 17 in East Lansing, Mich.