Oct. 19, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio  – The Ohio State women’s tennis team will host the 2011 USTA/ITA Division 1 Midwest Regional Championships Thursday through Tuesday. Play begins at 9 a.m. Thursday with qualifying singles at the Varsity Tennis Center (880 W. Henderson Road) and continues through Tuesday.

Updated draws, match schedules and live stats (main draws only) are available at the Tournament Central site at  Fans also can follow along on the official twitter page of Ohio State women’s tennis at

Play opens Thursday with a 48-player qualifying singles draw with eight advancing to the 48-player main draw singles bracket. The tournament will also hold a 48-team main draw doubles bracket. The doubles championship match will be held at 10 a.m. Monday before the singles championship at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Consolation matches will be held at the Racquet Club (1100 Bethel Road) throughout the tournament beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday.

At least six Buckeyes will compete in main draw singles. Senior Kelsey Haviland, juniors Fidan Manashirova, Gabby Steele and Kara Cecil, sophomore Noelle Malley and freshman Kelsey Dieters all received berths into the main draw. Sophomores Tiffany Dittmer and Kelsey Becker will look to advance through qualifying singles to join their teammates in the main draw.

Dittmer, the No. 7 seed in the qualifier, earned a first-round bye and will face the winner of the match between Youngstown State’s Marta Burak and Detroit Mercy’s Elena Strakhova. Becker will face Elisa Simonetti of Illinois-Chicago in the first round. The victor of the Becker/Simonetti match will compete opposite Nicky Stracar of Wisconsin in the second round.

Four Buckeye doubles teams will compete in the main draw, as well. Cecil and Dieters, Malley and Haviland, Manashirova and Steele, and Becker and Dittmer will represent Ohio State.

The Scarlet and Gray will be joined by four Big Ten schools at the event, including Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin. Akron, Bowling Green, Cleveland State, DePaul, Detroit Mercy, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Illinois-Chicago, IPFW, Notre Dame, Toledo and Western Michigan make up the remaining schools in the 17-team contingent.

The Buckeyes play host to the regional championships for the first time since 1999. A member of the Scarlet and Gray has reached the quarterfinal round each of the last two years, with Paloma Escobedo advancing last season and Kirsten Flower reaching the Round of 8 in 2009. An Ohio State doubles tandem has made it to the semifinals two of the last three seasons (2008, ’10).

Last year, then-senior Paloma Escobedo led the Buckeyes in main draw singles action at the regional event hosted by Michigan at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Houston, Texas, native battled to the quarterfinals after a first-round bye, but could not knock off eventual champion Kristy Frilling of Notre Dame to earn a semifinal berth.

In all, six Buckeyes competed in main draw singles at the event after Noelle Malley and Kara Cecil advanced through qualifying singles. The two joined Kelsey Haviland, Cami Hubbs, Gabby Steele and Escobedo in the draw. Cecil, Haviland and Escobedo stayed alive through the first two rounds after Cecil’s upset of Michigan’s Whitney Taney, a No. 5-8 seed, set up an all-Buckeye showdown between Cecil and Escobedo in the third round.

The doubles tandem of Haviland and Steele knocked off the top-seeded duo of Frilling and teammate Shannon Mathews of Notre Dame, 8-6, in the quarterfinals before falling just short of a championship berth after dropping a match to Rachael White and Allison Falkin, 8-6. 

Following the conclusion of the USTA/ITA Division 1 Women’s Midwest Regional Championships, the Buckeyes will begin preparing for the ITA National Indoors held in Flushing, N.Y., Nov. 3-6. Members of the team will also travel to Tempe, Ariz., to compete in the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational Nov. 4-6. The Thunderbird is the final fall tournament for the Scarlet and Gray. Ohio State kicks off its dual-match season Jan. 15 against South Florida in Tampa, Fla.