COLUMBUS, Ohio – What a match! Friday night inside the OSU Varsity Tennis Center featured everything you want in a college sporting event — moments of joy, moments of frustration, the feeling that your team is going to win followed almost immediately by the feeling that your team just might lose and then finally, elation. The last of which came when Ohio State redshirt-senior Danielle Wolf outlasted Duke’s Yasmine Mansouri 7-5 in a third-set tiebreak to lift the Buckeyes to a 4-2 win over the No. 5 Blue Devils.
The win was the second win over a top-10 team in the last six days for Ohio State who improves to 3-0 on the season.
The Buckeyes started hot. They won the doubles point and then raced to a pair of quick singles victories and all of a sudden, OSU was up 3-0. But Duke clawed back, held off a number of match points and made the score 3-2 and were on serve in the remaining two singles matches. Wolf then got a key break late in the third set and ultimately provided the clinching point with a dramatic win in the tiebreaker.
“Duke is a great team and we certainly didn’t expect to walk out of here 4-0 in an hour and 45 minutes. That wasn’t part of the gameplan,” said Ohio State head coach Melissa Schaub. “We got five first sets and like good players do, Duke came back and played well in the second sets. I think we started looking at the scoreboard a little bit and got a little anxious waiting for Irina to finish it. And then when that didn’t happen, we got in a little bit of a hole on some courts. But we came back and showed some great fight. Shiori is playing some great tennis and I’d put Danielle Wolf up against anyone in the country right now. She works incredibly hard and deserved to finish it off tonight.”
Duke won the opening doubles match on court one, 6-2 but the Buckeyes led on the other two courts and seemed to have the point in hand.
The match on court three for Wolf and redshirt-freshman Kathleen Jones vs. Meible Chi and Hannah Zhao ended up coming down to who could hold serve first. Wolf and Jones held at 4-3 and then broke one more time to win the match 6-3.
Shiori Fukuda and Irina Cantos Siemers followed not to long after with a 6-2 win on court two over Mansouri and Margaryta Bilokin to give the Buckeyes the early lead.
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Playing in her first dual singles match as a Buckeye, Kathleen Jones stepped up in a huge way. She quickly put the Buckeyes ahead 2-0 as she dominated Hannah Zhao 6-0, 6-1. She didn’t drop a game until midway through the second set. What a way to start your career.
“I can’t say enough about Kathleen Jones. It’s just unbelievable what’s she’s doing for us in doubles and then today on the singles court,” said Schaub. “She put that point up there quick and gave us all the momentum early.”
“KJ being in her first match ever in singles and she absolutely killed it tonight,” said Danielle Wolf. “We’ve put in a lot of work together in doubles and she took that confidence out there on the singles court tonight. I am so proud of her.”
In the showcase match of the night, No. 11 Shiori Fukuda took down the No. 10 player in the country Kelly Chen 6-3, 6-4. Fukuda played beautifully all match and put OSU on the doorstep at 3-0.
It looked like the Buckeyes were going to be celebrating early but the Blue Devils dug their heels and made this a match. Margaryta Bilokin took down Isabelle Boulais 6-4, 6-2 on court three to get Duke on the board.
Cantos then had her first chance to clinch the match leading 5-3 in the second set and serving on a deuce point. Chloe Beck played a great point and got the break to stay in the match. Cantos then ran out 40-0 in the very next game and everyone in the building prepared to celebrate. But again, Beck pulled off a number of unreal shots and unbelievably saved all four match points. The two then battled into a tiebreak in which Beck won 7-1, forcing a third set.
While that was going on, Duke’s Meible Chi rebounded from a 7-5 first set loss to Kolie Allen and took the next two sets 6-1, 6-2. That brought the Blue Devils within one at 3-2.
On court two, Wolf won the opening set 6-1 and then Mansouri came back to win the second 6-4. That left the overall team match to be decided by a pair of emotional players on court two in Wolf and Mansouri and a pair of tired players on court five in Cantos and Beck.
After feeling the emotional letdown of losing the match points, Cantos showed a lot of grit early in the third and was leading 4-3 when the match was clinched. Even though she didn’t provide the clinching point, stealing back the momentum from Beck early in the third certainly helped Wolf as she battled through her own third set.
Speaking of that third set between Wolf and Mansouri, it was a tremendous battle. Each player spent a lot of energy and emotion to hold their first five games. Then Mansouri broke to take a 6-5 lead and headed to the service line. Wolf didn’t budge and broke right back to force the tiebreaker. In the breaker, Wolf got back on serve at 3-2 and held again to go up 5-4. She then won the next point to take a 6-4 lead and Mansouri saved one match point with a good hard serve out wide. Undaunted, Wolf served and won the next point and an emotional group celebration ensued.
The Buckeyes will now head into next weekend’s ITA Indoor National Team Championship in Chicago with a ton of confidence. Draws for the tournament will be out early next week.
#12 Ohio State 4, #5 Duke 2
1. #11 Shiori Fukuda (OSU) def. #10 Kelly Chen (DU) 6-3, 6-4
2. Danielle Wolf (OSU) def. Yasmine Mansouri (DU) 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5)
3. #67 Margaryta Bilokin (DU) def. Isabelle Boulais (OSU) 6-4, 6-2
4. #77 Meible Chi (DU) def. #125 Kolie Allen (OSU) 5-7, 6-1, 6-2
5. #58 Irina Cantos Siemers (OSU) vs. #25 Chloe Beck (DU) 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 4-3, unfinished
6. Kathleen Jones (OSU) def. Hannah Zhao (DU) 6-0, 6-1
1. Chloe Beck/Kelly Chen (DU) def. Isabelle Boulais/Kolie Allen (OSU) 6-2
2. Shiori Fukuda/Irina Cantos Siemers (OSU) def. Yasmine Mansouri/Margaryta Bilokin (DU) 6-2
3. Kathleen Jones/Danielle Wolf (OSU) def. Meible Chi/Hannah Zhao (DU) 6-3
Duke 4-1; National ranking #5
Ohio State 3-0; National ranking #12
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (6,1,3,4,2)
Official: Marcus Lee T-2:55 A-195