COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 33 Ohio State women’s tennis team (16-6, 3-3 Big Ten) travels to face No. 26 Illinois (11-7, 5-1 Big Ten) and No. 38 Indiana (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten) this weekend. The Buckeyes hit the courts against the Fighting Illini in Champaign, Ill., Saturday at noon EST before the showdown with the Hoosiers in Bloomington, Ind., Sunday at 11 a.m. EST. Links to live stats for both matches can be found on the women’s tennis schedule page at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
IN THE THICK OF THINGS
With two weeks of conference play left, Ohio State is currently sixth in the Big Ten standings with a 3-3 conference record. Purdue also owns a 3-3 conference record, but the Boilermakers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker win over the Buckeyes.
Michigan sits atop the standings with an unblemished 7-0 record. Northwestern and Illinois sit in second and third, respectively, at 5-1 in the conference.
BUCKEYES MOVE IN ITA POLLS
Ohio State fell three spots from last week, coming in at No. 33 in the latest ITA Polls.
Earlier this season, the Scarlet and Gray set a program record when they reached No. 17 in the rankings.
Kirsten Flower also dropped three spots in the ITA singles rankings. The senior from Upper Arlington, Ohio, is now ranked 69th in the nation.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
Gabby Steele is the first Buckeye to top 20 wins this season, currently with 23. The freshman phenom is a stunning 23-5 (.821) in singles. Senior Kirsten Flower and freshman Fidan Manashirova are a single win away from joining Steele in 20-win territory.
The duo of Paloma Escobedo and Christina Keesey leads the Buckeyes in the doubles wins column this season (16). The two have won four-straight and have yet to drop a conference match. Manashirova and Steele have 15 wins, while Kelsey Haviland and Cami Hubbs combine for 14 doubles victories.
A HISTORY OF THE SERIES
The Buckeyes carry a 19-56 all-time record against their opponents this weekend. The Scarlet and Gray are 12-26 against the Fighting Illini, while Indiana holds the advantage against Ohio State, 30-7.
Illinois downed the Buckeyes, 5-2, last season in Columbus. Last year’s Senior Day shutout against Indiana was a season highlight for the Buckeyes.
SCOUTING THE ILLINI
The Illinois squad comes into the match having won eight of its last nine matches, including its current four-match streak.
The Fighting Illini are led by a pair of 20-match winners. Senior Megan Fudge, a three-time All-Big Ten selection, has won four-straight and is ranked 90th in the nation according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Junior Marisa Lambropoulos has also won 20 matches this season, playing at every position except No. 1.
Fudge and Leigh Finnegan form the 51st-ranked doubles tandem in the country. The two are 7-3 when playing together this season, including a 5-1 conference doubles record. Amy Allin and Annie McCarthy lead the team in wins (16), while Lambropoulos and Breanne Smutko follow closely with 14 wins.
The team is 15-3 (.833) in Big Ten doubles matches this season.
A GLANCE AT THE HOOSIERS
Indiana enters the weekend having won three of its last four matches.
Evgeniya Vertesheva leads the team in singles victories with 23. Lindsey Stuckey and Leslie Hureau have collected 22 wins each his season.
Hureau and Myriam Sopel lead the team in doubles wins (15). Stuckey and Vertesheva follow with 13 wins. The Hoosiers have struggled in conference doubles this season, going 6-12 (.333).
BUCKEYES TIE SEASON SHUTOUT RECORD
The Buckeyes’ 7-0 win over Minnesota April 2 put this year’s team in the record books, tying a single-season school record for shutouts at eight. Barbara Mueller’s 1978-79 team set the record that was tied during the 2006-07 season under the direction of current head coach Chuck Merzbacher.
BUCKEYES FALL TO RIVAL MICHIGAN
The No. 30 Ohio State women’s tennis team (16-6, 3-3 Big Ten) fell to rival No. 3-ranked Michigan (17-3, 7-0 Big Ten) 6-1 last Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Wolverines took two of three doubles matches to earn the doubles point. The 36th-ranked duo of Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno downed Ohio State’s Kelsey Haviland and Cami Hubbs at the top position, 8-5.
Paloma Escobedo and Christina Keesey notched a win for the Buckeyes after defeating Mimi Nguyen and Michelle Sulahian, 8-6, on the second court. The tandem is now 6-0 in conference matches this season.
Michigan took the doubles point after Denise Muresan and Tania Mahtani came from behind for an 8-5 win against Buckeye freshmen Gabby Steele and Fidan Manashirova at No. 3.
In singles, Sulahian earned a straight sets win over Manashirova, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 6. Tatsuno followed in similar fashion, taking a 6-4, 6-4 decision against Haviland at the third position.
The story was the same on court four as Michigan’s Nguyen finished with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Steele, ending the Buckeye’s seven-match win streak.
On court one, No. 66 Kirsten Flower and No. 25 Muresan battled to a third set, but Muresan proved victorious, taking the match, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. At No. 5 Keesey also fell in three sets as Mahtani came from a set down to win, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Escobedo provided the lone point for the Buckeyes after defeating Taney in three sets, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, at No. 2.
BUCKEYES DEFEAT MICHIGAN STATE
The 30th-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team improved to 16-5 (3-2 Big Ten) after downing Michigan State (6-13, 0-6 Big Ten), 6-1, on the road in East Lansing, Mich., last Saturday. The Buckeyes are now 9-3 when playing away from home.
The Scarlet and Gray took the doubles point after Christina Keesey and Paloma Escobedo defeated Michaela Silesova and Elena Ivanova, 8-6, at No. 2 and the freshman tandem of Fidan Manashirova and Gabby Steele edged Manon Noe and Christine Milliken, 9-7, on the third court. Both Ohio State squads pushed their season win total to 15.
The Buckeyes’ top duo of Kelsey Haviland and Cami Hubbs dropped a close decision to Whitney Wilson and Nicole Herzog, falling 8-6.
No. 66-ranked senior Kirsten Flower took the top singles match against Silesova in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4. Escobedo and Herzog’s match was the only contest to go to a third set, but Escobedo came back from dropping the first set and pulled out a close super-tiebreaker decision, winning 4-6, 7-5, 11-9.
Haviland earned her fifth win at the No. 3 position, defeating Wilson, 6-4, 6-4. Steele improved to 23-4 on the season after a victory over Amy Barton, 6-4, 6-2. The win pushed Steele’s win streak to seven matches.
Manashirova dropped a straight sets decision to Ivanova, Michigan State’s singles wins leader, 6-3, 6-3. Keesey holds onto an unblemished conference record after a win against Milliken, 6-1, 6-0. The senior has not lost in singles or doubles since beginning Big Ten play.
A LOOK AHEAD
Ohio State returns home following the action this weekend for the final matches of the regular season. The Buckeyes face Wisconsin April 23 before taking on Northwestern April 25 on Senior Day.