COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 31 Ohio State women’s tennis team improved to 3-2 with a 4-3 victory against the Kentucky Wildcats (0-4) on the road at the Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday evening. The Buckeyes bounced back from an early 2-0 deficit by taking four of the six singles matches for the comeback victory.

The win marked the first time the Buckeyes have earned consecutive wins against the Wildcats since notching a 4-0 record against Kentucky from 1975-82.

“It was a battle and our team never stopped fighting,” Ohio State head coach Chuck Merzbacher said of the close victory. “The key was Paloma (Escobedo) getting to a third set on court one and keeping the momentum from going completely in Kentucky’s favor. It really helped Fidan (Manashirova) and Cami (Hubbs) on courts five and six. Kentucky has one of the toughest buildings in the country. It was a really good road win.”

UK opened the match by taking the doubles point after a sweep of all three matches. The point didn’t come easily for the Wildcats, however, as two of the matches went to a tiebreaker and the third was an 8-6 decision.

Kentucky’s duo of Khristina Blajkevitch and CeCe Witten took its match on court two against Kelsey Haviland and Gabby Steele, 8-6. The Wildcats then clinched with Megan Broderick and Jessica Stile’s 9-8 (1) win against Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs at No. 1.

On court three, the tandem of Caitlin McGraw and Testerman completed the UK sweep with its own 9-8 (5) victory against Kara Cecil and Noelle Malley.

Kentucky pulled ahead to a 2-0 lead after Stiles wrapped up a straight sets win against Haviland 6-1, 6-1 on court two. The Buckeyes roared back to tie the match at 2 apiece following Cecil’s 6-0, 6-1 victory against Blajkevicth on court three and Steele’s 6-0, 6-3 effort on court four.

Despite a thrilling second set tiebreaker win to stay alive on court one, Escobedo couldn’t complete the comeback against Broderick, falling 1-6, 7-6 (5), 1-6.

With Ohio State down 3-2, Hubbs, a senior captain, rallied back from a 5-3 deficit in the second set to take the set and the match, 6-4, 7-5, against Witten on court six.

Ohio State’s Manashirova closed the door on the upset victory for the Wildcats after defeating McGraw in three sets 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 on court five. The sophomore has now won 11-consecutive matches.

The Buckeyes return home for their Big Ten opener against Penn State at 6 p.m. Friday inside the OSU Varsity Tennis Center (880 W. Henderson Road) as a part of USTA Campus Kids’ Day. The team will also face William & Mary at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Tennis Match Results
Ohio State vs Kentucky
Feb 9, 2011 at Lexington, Ky.
(Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center)

No. 31 Ohio State 4, Kentucky 3
No. 1 – Megan Broderick (UK) def. Paloma Escobedo (OSU), 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-1
No. 2 – Jessica Stiles (UK) def. No. 125 Kelsey Haviland (OSU) 6-1, 6-1
No. 3 – Kara Cecil (OSU) def. Khristina Blajkevitch (UK) 6-0, 6-1
No. 4 – Gabby Steele (OSU) def. Marni Venter (UK), 6-0, 6-3
No. 5 – Fidan Manashirova (OSU) def. Caitlin McGraw (UK) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
No. 6 – Cami Hubbs (OSU) def. CeCe Witten(UK) 6-4, 7-5

No. 1 – Broderick/Stiles (UK) def. No. 64 Hubbs/Escobedo (OSU) 9-8 (1)
No. 2 – Blajkevitch/Witten (UK) def. No. 50 Steele/Haviland (OSU) 8-6
No. 3 – McGraw/Testerman (UK) def. Cecil/Malley (OSU) 9-8 (5)

Order of Completion: Doubles (2, 1*, 3); Singles (2, 3, 4, 1, 6, 5*)