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April 19, 2002

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COLUMBUS, Ohio-The Ohio State women’s tennis team (18-4, 6-2 Big Ten) closes out the regular season this weekend. The No. 35-ranked Buckeyes will face off against No. 46 Illinois at 11 a.m. Saturday and then take on No. 14 Northwestern at 11 a.m. Sunday. Both matches are scheduled for outdoors at the Stickney Tennis Center but they may moved inside to Jesse Owens West if the weather is not cooperative. Note the Illinois match originally was set for noon, but was moved to accommodate Illinois’ travel plans.

In The Rankings
The Buckeyes were ranked 35th in the most recent release of the Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings administered by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (April 17). The Northwestern squad is ranked 14th in the nation by the ITA and Illinois is ranked 46th.

The Individuals
Two Buckeyes were ranked in the Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings (April 17). Senior Monica Rincon is at No. 64, while Erica Fisk is ranked 80th. The doubles team of Rincon and Meaghan Colville is ranked 49th in the nation. The next individual rankings will be released April 24 and will be available on-line at www.itatennis.com.

The Finale
The matches this weekend mark the final home competition for Buckeye senior Monica Rincon and Claudia Castro. In their four years with the team, the squad has advanced to the NCAA tournament each season, including posting the program’s first win in NCAA postseason play in 2000. After finishing sixth in the Big Ten as freshmen, Rincon and Castro have been part of the team that has finished third in the conference in each of the last two seasons and claimed the regular season title in 2000.

Coach’s Thoughts on the Seniors
“Monica Rincon and Claudia Castro certainly helped build the Buckeyes back into Big Ten Conference contenders and a nationally ranked program,” Chuck Merzbacher, OSU head coach, said. “They have added to the OSU women’s tennis program with outstanding leadership on and off the tennis court.”

“Monica Rincon has made a name for herself here as one of the top players in the history of the program. She has made the most of her opportunity to compete at this level and represent the Buckeyes at the top of the OSU lineup and at the collegiate grand slam events. Currently, Monica is the second winningest singles player in program history and one of OSU’s two women’s tennis All-Americans.”

“Claudia Castro contributed to the team’s success in her four years although sometimes slowed down by a knee injury. Claudia has been ready to help the team when needed. She has played a key role in many exciting dual matches in singles and doubles play. In her four years the Buckeyes have made the NCAA team tournament three times and are looking to make it four appearances with an invitation to the NCAAs this year.”

The Century
Senior Monica Rincon posted two wins last weekend to reach the 100-win mark for her Buckeye career. She is just the second Buckeye to do so, following her former doubles partner, Kristy Dascoli (1998-01).

In the Conference
The Buckeyes stand in second place in the Big Ten with a record of 6-2. Northwestern is in first with a perfect mark of 8-0. Wisconsin is third with a 6-3 record, followed by Illinois at 5-3. Three teams are tied for fifth with identical 4-4 records – Iowa, Indiana and Purdue. Rounding out the league are Michigan State and Michigan, both at 3-5, Penn State (1-7) and Minnesota (1-8).

Putting it on the Line
The Buckeyes will put their unblemished home record on the line this weekend. The squad is a perfect 13-0 at home this season, setting the program record for home wins and consecutive home wins.

A Trend to Follow
The Buckeye men’s tennis team ended its regular season undefeated, going a perfect 15-0 at home. Combined the Buckeye men’s and women’s teams are 28-0 in Columbus this season.

Scouting the Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois (10-10, 5-3) enters the weekend ranked 46th in the nation. Last Sunday the squad posted an important win, beating the Wisconsin Badgers, 4-3, in Big Ten play.

The Illini are led by Jennifer McGaffigan, a sophomore who is ranked 56th in the nation. She won the 2001 ITA Circuit Singles Championship. McGaffigan is 23-14 this season, including a mark of 5-3 in the Big Ten at No. 1 singles. Eldina Fazlic has the most Big Ten wins for the Illini, going 6-2 at No. 5.

Sujay Lama is the head coach of Illinois. He is in his fourth season at the helm and carries a career record of 54-42 into the match with the Buckeyes.

The Series
The Illini lead the all-time series with the Buckeyes, 19-8. The last meeting between the squads was last year, with Illinois winning the match in Champaign, Ill., 4-3. Ohio State won the last meeting in Columbus (2000), 5-2, its only win against the Illini in the last five meetings.

The Last Meeting
Ohio State and Illinois last met April 21, 2001, in Champaign, Ill. The Buckeyes claimed the doubles point to take the early lead in the match but could only secure two singles wins, falling to Illinois, 4-3.

Scouting the Northwestern Wildcats
No. 14 Northwestern plays Ohio State Sunday after facing Penn State Saturday in State College. The Wildcats enter the weekend 16-5 overall and stand in first place in the Big Ten with a perfect 8-0 mark.

Marine Piriou is the No. 1 singles player for Northwestern. Piriou was ranked ninth in the nation coming into the spring season and currently is No. 27 in the nation, while teammate Jessica Rush is No. 83. The Wildcats have two of the top doubles teams in the nation, with Lia Jackson and Simona Petrutiu holding down the No. 30 spot and Marine Piriou and Jessica Rush coming in at No. 35.

Claire Pollard is in her fourth season as head coach of the Wildcats. During her tenure, Northwestern is 67-15 and 27-3 in the Big Ten. Pollard was named 2001 Big Ten Coach of the Year and she has coached the squad to three consecutive Big Ten titles.

The Series
The Wildcats lead the all-time head to head matchup, 20-4. Last season Northwestern won both meetings, beating OSU in the regular season, 5-2, and then in the Big Ten tournament semifinals, 4-0.

The Last Meeting
The last time Ohio State and Northwestern met in Columbus in the regular season was April 8, 2000. In the match, Ohio State posted a 5-2 upset over then-No. 15 ranked Northwestern. OSU opened the match by winning the doubles point. Taryn Bowen won a three-set match at No. 6 singles to clinch the win for the Buckeyes.

The Last Meeting
Ohio State and Northwestern last met in the semifinal round of the 2001 big Ten Tournament in Columbus. The Wildcats won the doubles point and then recorded three matches in straight sets to beat Ohio State, 4-0.

Rebounders
Ohio State has not lost more than one match in a row this season, rebounding from every loss to win the next outing.

Almost There
Monica Rincon’s 100 career wins place her second on OSU’s all-time singles wins list. At the ITA Midwest Regional Tournament Oct. 28, Rincon picked up her 81st and 82nd career wins, catapulting her ahead of Maria Olazagatsti (1977-79, 81-20) into second place. OSU’s all-time singles wins leader is Kristy Dascoli, who finished her career (1998-01) with 104 wins.

Moving UP
With 72 and 71 career singles wins each, respectively, Michelle Matko and Sadhaf Pervez now are in the Top 10 all-time in program history in singles wins. Matko is fifth, while Pervez holds down the No. 6 spot. Monica Rincon is second, just four wins behind all-time leader Kristy Dascoli.

All-Time Singles Wins at OSU 1. Kristy Dascoli 104 (1998-01) 2. Monica Rincon 100 (1999-present) 3. Maria Olazagatski 81 (1977-79) 4. Linda Magid 78 (1995-96) 5. Michelle Matko 72 (1999-present) 6. Sadhaf Pervez 71 (2000-present) 7. Leann Grimes 68 (1975-78) 8. Ann Wilson 67 (1974-77) 9. Abigail Villena 66 (1990-93) 10. Ann Beaudoin 65 (1971-82)

Moving Up In Doubles
Monica Rincon has posted 91 doubles wins in her career, tying her for fourth all-time (with former doubles partner Kristy Dascoli). Kelly Story (1989-92) is the program record holder with 118.

A Record to Break
The Buckeyes enter the weekend with 18 wins, tying the program record set in 1983 and 2000.

A Leader
Lindsay Williams is one of only two players in the Big Ten with a perfect 8-0 record in conference play. Williams is 8-0 at No. 5 singles, while Indiana’s Inga Radel is 8-0 at No. 2. Wisconsin’s Shana McElroy is 8-1 at No. 3.

The Club Grows Again
Lindsay Williams posted two wins and Sadhaf Pervez won once last weekend to become the fourth and fifth Buckeyes to reach the 20-win mark this season. They join Monica Rincon (24), Michelle Matko (22) and Erica Fisk (21) as Buckeyes with 20 or more wins this season.

Against the Conference
Lindsay Williams, who plays at No. 5 for the Buckeyes, leads the team with a perfect 8-0 record in Big Ten play this spring. Michelle Matko is second on the team with a 7- 1 mark in conference play while playing at No. 4. Matko’s only loss came against Judy Wang of Penn State Jan. 27. Monica Rincon is third with a 6-2 record at No. 1 singles.

Sweep!
The Buckeyes posted 7-0 shutout wins over seven opponents so far this season. All of Ohio State’s shutouts have happened at home. Their record for shutouts is 11, set in 1986 and 1984.

Clutch
The Buckeyes won their matches against Purdue and Indiana last weekend by identical 4-3 scores. Against the Boilermakers, Michelle Matko won a three-set match to clinch the Ohio State win. The next day against the Hoosiers, Claudia Castro won in three sets to lift Ohio State to the Important conference victory.

What a Win!
Claudia Castro, playing in her first match since March 9, posting an impressive three-set victory against Indiana’s Martina Grimm to clinch Ohio State’s win. Castro won the first set before dropping the second. In the third and final set, Castro fought back from a 5-2 deficit, winning the last five points to clinch the match.

The Leaderboard
Three Buckeyes – Michelle Matko, Monica Rincon and Lindsay Williams – have posted 17 wins this spring.

Matko as of Late
Michelle Matko had her eight-match winning streak stopped against Kentucky before rebounding with wins against Purdue and Indiana. She has a mark of 17-5 this spring.

Working Overtime
Lindsay Williams has had seven of her last nine matches go to a third set or a match tiebreaker. In those matches, she has posted a record of 5-2. This season, Williams is 7-5 in three-set matches.

Among the Best
Monica Rincon is the third-highest rated Big Ten singles player in the nation at No. 64, behind only Marine Piriou of Northwestern (27) and Jenny McGafigan of Illinois (56). Erica Fisk, at No. 80, is fifth among conference players. In doubles, the OSU tandem of Rincon and Meaghan Colville is fourth at No. 49, behind two Northwestern teams and a duo from Indiana.

Rincon is Player of the Month
Monica Rincon recently was named Big Ten Women’s Tennis Player of the Month March.

Rincon, the Buckeyes’ No. 1 singles player, moved up to the No. 51 spot in the national rankings, the highest ranking of her career. During the month, she went 6-1 in singles, including a five-match winning streak. Rincon, with a career record of 100-44, is just four wins away from tying the all-time mark of 104. Rincon is 17-3 in the spring and 24-8 overall this season which leads the team in wins.

The Leaders
Monica Rincon leads the Buckeyes with 24 singles wins, followed by Michelle Matko with 22. In doubles, Meaghan Colville ranks first with 25 victories, with Pervez second at 24.

A Tough Group to Play With
Ten of the 11 teams in the Big Ten Conference are ranked by the ITA this season. The lone unranked team is Penn State. Northwestern is first at No. 14, followed by Ohio State (35), Wisconsin (38), Indiana (41), Illinois (46), Michigan (50), Purdue (54), Iowa (55), Michigan State (63) and Minnesota (71).

The Return
The Buckeyes return to Bloomington, Ind., next weekend for the 2002 Big Ten Championships. The tournament will be held April 25-28 at the Varsity Tennis Courts.