Feb. 10, 2004

Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s tennis team returns home to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions at 11 a.m. Sunday in Columbus at the Jesse Owens Recreation Center in the Big Ten conference opener for both teams.

Scouting Penn State
The Nittany Lions come to Columbus unranked with a record of 1-3, with all three losses coming at the hands of ranked teams. The Buckeyes hold a 17-14 advantage over the Nittany Lions in the all-time series and have won seven in a row against Penn State, including a season-opening victory in State College, Pa. last year, 4-3.

Recapping Notre Dame
The Ohio State women’s tennis team dropped a 5-2 decision to No. 21 ranked Notre Dame Jan. 31 at the Eck Tennis Pavilion in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame swept all three doubles matches to open with a 1-0 lead, then got victories at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. Senior Erica Fisk (Indianapolis, Ind./ Pike) dropped her match in the No. 2 position to No. 88 Catrina Thompson, 6-2, 6-2, before Lindsay Williams (Sr., Beverly Hills, Mich./Birmingham Groves) fell to No. 14 Alicia Salas, 7-6 (9-7), 6-0, at No. 1. Freshman Kristin Messmer (Lutherville, Md./ McDonogh) picked up her second win of the spring and team-leading 10th overall by downing Kristina Stastny 6-4, 3-6, 1-0 (7) in the No. 6 position. The Buckeyes’ other win came at the No. 5 spot, where junior Emily DeCamilla (Sacramento, Calif./ Maryland) swept Sarah Jane Connelly, 6-4, 6-1.

Buck in Big Ten Openers
In head coach Chuck Merzbacher’s seven previous seasons as leader of the Buckeyes, his teams have been very successful in Big Ten openers. Merzbacher’s record is a sterling 5-2, including five consecutive wins. Overall, Merzbacher’s teams own a Big Ten record of 41-19 and have finished in the Top 4 in each of the past four seasons. Big Ten Success
As Big Ten competition begins, a pair of Lindsays lead Ohio State in career Big Ten wins. Lindsay Williams leads the Buckeyes with a record of 19-10, while Lindsay Bryan (Jr., New Orleans, La./ Ursuline Academy) follows with a 15-12 record.

After two matches Kristin Messmer is 2-0 for the spring and leads the Buckeyes in wins overall with a record of 10-5. Since starting the season 4-4, Messmer has won six of her last seven matches.

Early Upsets
After just two dual matches, three Buckeyes already own victories over ranked opponents. In singles, Lindsay Williams knocked off No. 13 Tammy Encina of Tennessee, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, while senior duo Erica Fisk (Indianapolis, Ind./ Pike) and Jackie Leskovar (Cambridge, Ontario/ N.C. State) knocked off No. 50 team Encina and Majen Immink, 9-8 (3) in doubles.

Climbing the Charts
Despite battling injuries, senior Erica Fisk (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) picked up seven victories during the fall season, giving her 69 for her career. That total is good enough to move her to No. 7 in all-time wins at Ohio State, ahead of Leann Grimes (1975-78) and behind Michelle Matko (1998-2003).

Buckeyes in Rankings
Two Buckeyes, Fisk and senior Jackie Leskovar (Toronto, Ontario/N.C. State) enter the 2004 season ranked in the Midwest region. In the Midwest regional rankings released Dec. 4, Leskovar is No. 28 while Fisk holds down the No. 30 spot.

Wasting No Time
Three Buckeyes saw their first collegiate singles action during the fall season at the St. Mary’s Classic Sept. 19-21 in Knoxville, Tenn., in the fall. Kristin Messmer (fr., Lutherville, Md./McDonogh) and Sonia Ruzimovsky (fr., Brooklyn, N.Y./Brooklyn Tech) each won their first match by defeating Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. Ruzimovsky topped Elizabeth Proctor, while Messmer dispatched Sandie Knight and went on to finish third in her flight. Ohio State’s third freshman, Anna Volberg (Toledo, Ohio/St. Ursula Academy) suffered defeat in her initial collegiate match but out-dueled North Carolina State’s Virginia Romero in her second. Messmer ended the fall season with eight singles victories, most on the team.

Wrapping Up Autumn
The Buckeyes enjoyed a competitive fall season, appearing in five tournaments around the Midwest. The Buckeyes competed in the St. Mary’s Fall Classic, the Cissie Leary Invitational, the Kentucky Fall Classic and the Fall Desert Collegiate Classic and had eight student-athletes qualify for the ITA Midwest Regional in either singles, doubles or both.

Buckeyes Welcome Dascoli
Former Ohio State women’s tennis stand out Kristy Dascoli (1999-2001) has been named assistant coach for the squad, head coach Chuck Merzbacher announced Tuesday. OSU’s all-time singles wins leader with 104, Dascoli was named Ohio State’s Player of the Century for women’s tennis and is one of the best players ever to play in the Big Ten. Dascoli was the first OSU player to be named an All-American in singles competition. She was honored as the Big Ten Player of the Year following both the 2000 and 2001 seasons and is the only player in conference history to win the award outright in back-to-back seasons. Dascoli was the Big Ten Player of the Month three times (April 1999, April 2000 and March ’01) and posted an incredible 35-4 Big Ten regular season record in her four years at OSU. In 2001, she set a program record by winning 31 overall singles matches. In addition, Dascoli played No. 1 singles her entire career, qualified for the NCAA singles championships in each of her four years and was named All-Big Ten four consecutive years. In doubles, she was a four-time NCAA championship participant and was All-American in 2001. Since graduating with a degree in psychology, Dascoli has played professionally and has wins over several women ranked in the Top 200. She still plays professionally and now is in graduate school working on her master’s degree in human development and family science.

Recruiting Update
Caitlin O’Keefe, a senior at Troy High School in Troy, Mich., and Silvia Prajescu of Canada signed NCAA National Letters of Intent join the Buckeyes tennis team for the 2004 fall season. O’Keefe recently won her third consecutive Division I state singles championship while leading her team to its first state team title. For her career, O’Keefe was undefeated in conference play and sported an overall high school record of 136-2. She enjoyed undefeated seasons during both her junior and senior years. She also was an all-state selection four times and an All-American three times. Along with her success on the court, O’Keefe was an Academic All-American in 2003 and received the 2003 Hoxie Award, given by the Southeast Michigan Tennis Association board of directors for the high school athlete who best demonstrates sportsmanship and contributes to the game of tennis in a positive way. Prajescu was ranked No. 5 in Canada for Under-16 in 2002 and finished in the Top 10 at the Under-16 Singles National Indoor Championships. She advanced to the semifinals in doubles of the same tournament. In 2001 she was ranked among the Top 8 in singles at the Under-16 Outdoor National Championships and advanced to the quarterfinals in doubles.

Schedule to be Challenging
The Buckeyes’ match with the Volunteers was the first of 10 the Buckeyes will play this season against 2003 NCAA championship qualifiers. Other non-conference foes of note are Notre Dame, William and Mary, UNLV and Kentucky. Additionally, the coaches expect the Big Ten, which is traditionally known for having quality tennis play, to be unusually strong this year. Purdue, Northwestern, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana all are coming off NCAA appearances and are primed to provide big challenges to all foes.

Next Up
Ohio State returns to action at 1 p.m. Feb. 20 to face Nebraska at the Jesse Owens West Recreation Center.