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COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 43 Ohio State women’s tennis team (7-6, 1-0 Big Ten) resumes Big Ten competition against Purdue (5-5, 1-1 Big Ten) this Friday at 4 p.m. at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center. The Buckeyes enter the match looking to stay on pace with Illinois and Northwestern, both 2-0 in the Big Ten.

Live stats for the match will be available through OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

Purdue comes to Columbus with wins in two of its last three matches, with the loss coming against Illinois in a tight, 4-3 match. Other key wins for the Boilermakers this season include a 4-3 win over Missouri and 6-1 wins over Maryland and Penn State.

Tatiana Ganzha leads Purdue with 18 singles wins in 2008-09 and a 6-4 mark this spring. Freshmen Jennifer Rabot and Anya Dushkina have been key additions, as Rabot is 8-2 and Dushkina is 7-3 in the spring season. Stephanie Wooten and Michelle Sammons have teamed up at No. 1 doubles to go 7-3 this spring while Rabot and Remi Martin have a 5-5 mark at No. 2.

The Buckeyes hold a narrow 22-19 lead over Purdue in the all-time series between the programs, with Ohio State winning four of the last six matches played in Columbus. The teams met last season in Columbus, with Ohio State coming from behind to take a 5-2 win. Then-freshman Cami Hubbs set the Ohio State season singles win record by in the match taking her 32nd win of the 2007-08 season.

FLOWER POWERED
Junior Kirsten Flower was named the Big Ten women’s tennis athlete of the week March 3 after her part in helping the 37th-rankedBuckeyes to a 6-1 win over conference-foe Penn State. The weekly laurel is the first for Flower as a Buckeye and the first for Ohio State since Cami Hubbs received the award in March 2008.

The 116th-ranked Flower defeated Monika Mical in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3 in No. 1 singles and paired with Paloma Escobedo to blank the Nittany Lions combo of Mical and Sarah Lotto, 8-0.

A graduate of Upper Arlington high school, Flower spent her freshman and sophomore years at Georgia Tech before transferring back to her hometown this past summer. She helped the Yellow Jackets to both the 2007 NCAA championship and the 2008 ITA Indoor championship, while also winning 47 career singles matches.

QUICK HITS
After beginning the season with an assortment of doubles lineups, the Buckeyes seem to have found effective combinations in paired play that look similar to those employed in 2007-08. Christina Keesey and Angela DiPastina play at the top spot, while Cami Hubbs and Julie Blackmore compete in No. 2 doubles. Those teams, along with Paloma Escobedo and Kirsten Flower, are all 4-1 in the spring season.

Flower leads the Buckeyes with 12 singles wins this season, while DiPastina is the team leader with nine wins this spring. Every Buckeye that has played in singles this season has a winning record.

DiPastina’s 69 career singles wins are tied for eighth most all-time at Ohio State with Leann Grimes (1975-78) and leave her three wins shy of seventh-place Michelle Matko (1999-03). Classmate Julie Blackmore is hot on her heels, with 68 career singles wins.

The Big Ten race is beginning to shape up, as only five teams remain undefeated in conference. No. 1Northwestern and No. 33 Illinois are both 2-0 while No. 19 Michigan, No. 70 Iowa and No. 43 Ohio State all sit at 1-0.

BUCKEYES FALL IN FLORIDA
Despite winning the doubles point, Ohio State lost to South Florida, 5-2, in a non-conference match in Tampa, Fla., last Sunday in their first outdoor match of the spring season for the team. The loss halted the Buckeye’s season-high four-match win streak.

Angela DiPastina and Christina Keesey won their fourth match of the spring at No. 1 doubles, dropping Irene Reheberger and Lauren Shumate, 8-6. Kirsten Flower and Paloma Escobedo also won, taking an 8-6 decision over Iciri Rai and Natalia Guevara at No. 3. Julie Blackmore and Cami Hubbs were defeated at No. 2, falling in a close one to Allyn Mueller and Jessica Zok, 9-8 (1).

The Buckeyes were not as successful in singles, losing in five of six matches. Keesey was the lone Ohio State winner, taking a straight-set 6-2, 6-4 win against Shumate at No. 6 singles. Blackmore retired from her match at No. 5, trailing in the third set to Mueller, 4-6, 6-4, 4-3. Hubbs won her first set, 6-1, over Guevara, but could not close the match out and lost 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Flower lost in No. 1 singles, 6-0, 6-4, to Reheberger while Escobedo was defeated by Zok at No. 2 singles, 6-1, 6-4. DiPastina was also beaten, losing 6-1, 6-1, to Rai at No. 3.

OHIO STATE TOO MUCH FOR RICE
Behind the doubles point and wins at four singles spots, Ohio State downed Rice, 5-2, in a non-conference match in the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center.

Ohio State took a 1-0 lead after winning 2-of-3 doubles matches. In singles, Rice’s Jessica Jackson tied the match at 1-all with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Buckeye senior Angela DiPastina at No. 3. Sophomore Cami Hubbs closed out Rebecca Lin at No. 4, 6-1, 6-3, to put Ohio State back on top. Freshman Kelsey Haviland added to the Buckeye lead with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Alex Rasch of Rice at the No. 6 spot.

Paloma Escobedo clinched the Buckeye victory, downing Ana Guzman at No. 2. Escobedo won the first set, 6-2, before winning a close second set, 6-4. Julie Blackmore secured the Buckeyes’ fifth point with a win in a super tiebreaker, rallying from a set down. She dropped the first set vs. Rebekka Hanle, 4-6, but won the second, 6-2, and the tiebreaker, 1-0 (11-9). Julie Chao posted Rice’s second point, rallying to defeat Buckeye junior Kirsten Flower in a super tiebreaker, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 1-0 (12-10).

All three doubles matches finished 8-5, with Ohio State coming out ahead on Nos. 2 and 3 to earn the doubles point. At No. 3 Flower and Escobedo were first off the court after defeating Rasch and Lin. Hubbs and Blackmore clinched the doubles point with a victory over Jackson and Shiva-Shankar. Rice took the No. 1 match, as DiPastina and Christina Keesey lost to Chao and Guzman.

TOP OF THE CLASS
The Buckeyes’ 2010 recruiting class of Fidan Manashirov, Kara Cecil and Gabby Steele has been ranked as the 12th-best in the nation, according to the Tennis Recruiting Network. The Big Ten as a whole enjoyed recruiting success, as the Buckeyes are one of four teams ranked in the Top 15.

Steele hails from Cincinnati and Summit Country Day High School. A four-time OHSAA state tournament participant, Steele was the Ohio State Division II champion as a junior in 2007, defeating current Buckeye freshman Kelsey Haviland in the championship match.

Cecil, a native of Plant City, Fla., is ranked as the No. 57 player in the class of 2009 by tennisrecruiting.net. In 2008, she reached the quarterfinals of the USTA national Open Girls 18’s National Open in Naples and Tallahassee and was ranked among the Top 10 in the state of Florida.

Manashirov comes to Ohio State after a distinguished prep career that saw her ranked as the No. 29 player in the class of 2009 by tennisrecruiting.net. The Elk Grove, Calif., native was ranked in the Northern California Girls 14’s, Girls 16’s and Girls 18’s and defeated eight blue chip prospects over the course of her career. The Gorwin Tennis Academy product has been equally stellar in doubles play, reaching the finals of multiple International Tennis Federation events.

VIVA LAS VEGAS AND BEYOND
Its off to the City of Lights, Las Vegas, for the Buckeyes March 23. Ohio State will take on Utah in the final non-conference match of the 2008-09 season.

That match begins the longest road swing of the year, followed by trips to Iowa City and Minneapolis for contests with Iowa and Minnesota March 27 and 29, respectively.

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