COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s tennis team hosts its last pair of home tilts this weekend as Wisconsin and Minnesota come to Columbus to face the Buckeyes.
The Scarlet and Gray (11-9, 4-2 Big Ten) take on the Badgers (11-9, 2-4 Big Ten) at 3 p.m. Friday and the Gophers (5-13, 1-5 Big Ten) at 11 a.m. Sunday. Both matches are scheduled to be played outside at the Stickney Tennis Center, but in the case of inclement weather action will move indoors to the Varsity Tennis Center.
Ohio State will hit the road for its last weekend of regular season play April 23 and 24. The Buckeyes travel to Bloomington, Ind., April 23 to face Indiana before moving across the state to face Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., April 24.
You can follow all of the action of Ohio State women’s tennis on Twitter (@OhioState_WTEN) or “Like” the Buckeyes’ page on Facebook at facebook.com/OhioStateWomensTennis.
OHIO STATE IN THE BOOKS
10-9: 2011 season record
4-2: 2011 Big Ten record
8-2: 2011 home record
3-9: 2011 record vs. nationally ranked teams
10-30: all-time vs. Wisconsin
15-24: all-time vs. Minnesota
A GLANCE AT THE BADGERS
The Badgers are coming off a pair of 4-3 losses to conference foes Indiana and Purdue on the road. Wisconsin has seen a trio of players inherit the No. 1 singles spot this year. Most recently, freshman Jenny Hois has played the top position, accumulating a 3-3 record while sharing the team lead with 12 singles victories overall. Classmate Nicky Stracar has earned a 7-4 record at No. 1 while sophomore Hannah Berner is 1-0 at No. 1 singles. The doubles tandem of Berner and Jessica Seyferth leads the team with 14 wins, 40 percent of the team’s 35 doubles victories.
The Buckeyes are 10-30 all-time when facing the Badgers. Last year, Ohio State shut out Wisconsin in a 7-0 victory at home. The Buckeyes have not lost to the Badgers since 2006.
PREVIEWING THE GOPHERS
Minnesota enters the match after winning just one of its 11 previous tilts, nine of which came against ranked opponents. Freshman Natalia Pintusava, ranked 74th in the nation, leads the Gophers in singles wins with 18, while Alessandra Ferrazzi and Alexa Palen hold the lead in doubles victories (nine). In all, Minnesota has competed with 20 different doubles combinations this season.
The Buckeyes are 15-24 all-time when facing the Gophers. Last year, Ohio State shut out Minnesota in a 7-0 victory at home. The Buckeyes have not lost to the Gophers since 2003.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
Sophomore Fidan Manashirova leads the Buckeyes in singles wins this season with 22, followed by classmates Gabby Steele and Kara Cecil, who have racked up 18 and 17 victories, respectively. The doubles tandem of Cecil and Noelle Malley holds the team lead in doubles victories with 14.
As the last two home matches of the season and for the careers of senior Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs, the two will be honored at the Minnesota match Sunday. In anticipation of the match, here are some facts about the collegiate careers of the two seniors:
Cami Hubbs and Paloma Escobedo kicked off their collegiate careers with a bang, landing themselves at the top of the Ohio State singles and doubles wins list for freshmen. Hubbs sits atop the singles wins list with 36 victories and the doubles wins list with 28 wins. Escobedo is second on the doubles list with 27 victories. Hubbs’ 36 wins as a freshman are also the most in a season for any Buckeye.
Both have earned team Most Valuable Player honors as a Buckeye. Hubbs picked up the award following her record-breaking 2008 campaign and Escobedo earned the accolade in 2010.
With 73 career singles victories, Cami Hubbs is tied for eighth with Angela DiPastina (2006-09) in the Ohio State record book. Her 79 career doubles victories put her in a tie for 11th place with Erica Fisk (2001-04). Paloma Escobedo, Hubbs’ doubles partner this year, has recorded 77 career doubles wins, good for 13th all-time. Escobedo’s 65 singles victories tie her with Ann Beaudoin (1979-81) for 16th.
Hubbs has competed in doubles in every Big Ten match since joining the team. Escobedo has played no lower than No. 2 singles in her collegiate career and before this season had not missed singles competition in a Big Ten match.
Escobedo and Hubbs have been a part of 63 team wins so far. That total follows only the 2003 senior class (66 wins) and the 2010 senior class (70 wins). The duo played a part in breaking multiple team records. Last year, the Buckeyes set records for most wins (20), most shutouts (10), most consecutive shutouts (four) and highest team ranking (17).
The seniors are the first class since 2005 to compete in at least three NCAA tournaments. Escobedo and Hubbs helped the Buckeyes win their first NCAA tournament game since 2004 last year when Ohio State defeated DePaul, 4-1, in the first round.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The Buckeyes not only hold an 8-2 home record this season, but the team has also notched three shutouts while playing inside the OSU Varsity Tennis Center. OSU has won those eight matches by a combined score of 49-7.
Ohio State opened the season with consecutive 7-0 victories against Cincinnati and Cleveland State Jan. 23 before whitewashing William & Mary at home Feb. 13.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
The Buckeyes have accumulated a 39-16 (.780) record at the No. 4-6 singles positions this season, including a 14-4 ledger at No. 6. Twelve of the 14 victories at No. 6 have come in straight sets for the Buckeyes.
Gabby Steele is 9-1 at No. 4 this season while Fidan Manashirova is 6-1 at No. 5. Manashirova, Cami Hubbs, Tiffany Dittmer and Noelle Malley have combined to post a 14-4 record at No. 6. Dittmer scored the first dual-match victory of her collegiate career March 20 against South Florida’s Kate Parker. Malley notched her first dual-match victory March 25 against Cassandra Escobar of Iowa in Ohio State’s 6-1 win.
Ohio State reemerged in the national rankings Tuesday at No. 64 after falling out of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association polls for the first time this season a week ago.
The Top 25 has remained a similar composition to the final rankings of 2010. Of the current Top 25, 22 teams finished 2010 ranked 25th or better, including an unchanged Top 3.
LEADING THE WAY
Ohio State women’s tennis seniors Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs were named captains of the 2011 team, head coach Chuck Merzbacher announced. Along with the two seniors, junior Kelsey Haviland joins the group as an assistant captain.
“All three have been leaders throughout their careers and are committed to taking our program to even higher heights,” Merzbacher said. “They all represent the university, athletics department and team on and off the court with class and sportsmanship. It is going to be a successful year because of their love of Ohio State and our program.”
LIKE ALL GOOD THINGS…
Fidan Manashirova pushed her win streak to 14 consecutive matches before dropping a 6-1, 6-0 decision to Oklahoma’s Marie-Pier Huet Feb. 27. Her streak was the longest since at least the 2007-08 season for any Buckeye in singles.
The streak began with a victory against Boston University’s Petra Santini at the Big Green Invite Nov. 5, 2010, and included wins against opponents from 13 schools, including teammate Kelsey Becker. Eleven of the 14 victories came in straight sets.
With 21 singles victories this season, the Elk Grove, Calif., native has passed her mark of 19 victories as a freshman last year. Manashirova opened her 19-win rookie campaign on a seven-match win streak.
GETTING IT DONE
With wins against Iowa and Illinois March 25 and 27, the 2011 Buckeyes became the first Ohio State squad to defeat both teams in the regular season since 2002. That version of the Scarlet and Gray downed both teams at home, 5-2.