Ohio State opens season with 6-1 record, best start since 2002-03 season

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Following a home victory over Kentucky Wednesday, the No. 33 Ohio State women’s tennis team (6-1) heads out on the road to face No. 50 William & Mary (3-2) at 4 p.m. Friday and No. 23 Virginia at noon Sunday.

The Buckeyes play the Tribe at the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center in Williamsburg, Va., before  traveling another 100 miles east for their noon match against the Cavaliers at Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.

Ohio State climbed the polls this week to No. 33, up from No. 38, in the most recent Campbell’s ITA College Rankings after a 7-0 victory over No. 31 Kentucky Wednesday.

The Buckeyes are 1-2 all-time against William & Mary. The most recent contest between the teams in Williamsburg, Va., occurred in 2007 and resulted in a 6-1 victory for the Tribe.
Virginia owns a 3-2 lead in the all-time series against the Buckeyes. The last time the teams faced each other was in Columbus in 2008. Ohio State dropped a close 4-3 decision at home.

William & Mary enters the contest with a 3-2 record with both losses coming against ranked teams in No. 2 Northwestern and No. 4 Georgia. The Tribe have been perfect at home with 7-0 victories over UMBC and James Madison.

The squad returns two All-CAA players from last season. Senior Ragina Acharya received first-team all-conference honors in singles and double and leads the top of the lineup for the Green and Gold. Fellow senior Carmen Pop garnered third-team All-CAA honors in singles. The team is led in singles wins by freshman Anik Cepeda (11). Acharya and junior Lauren Sabacinski have teamed up to provide a team-high 13 doubles wins for the Tribe.

Last season, William & Mary finished 10-12 in head coach Meredith Geiger-Walton’s first year, advancing to the Colonial Athletic Association semifinals before falling to conference foe VCU.

Virginia is 3-1 following a split at the ITA National Team Indoors Qualifier alongside the Buckeyes in Fresno, Calif. The Cavaliers finished with the same results as Ohio State, defeating Fresno State and falling to tournament winner Florida State.

No. 72 Lindsey Hardenbergh tops the lineup for the Cavaliers. The sophomore is a double-threat on the court, finishing last season with 23 singles wins and 18 doubles wins.

Virginia finished last season with 14 wins, including a first round win in the NCAA Tournament against VCU, before falling to Duke in the second round.

The Buckeyes’ 6-1 start is the best since the 2002-03 season. That year the squad finished 12-12 and tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a 6-4 ledger. The NCAA Tournament participants were led by now-assistant coach Sadhaf Pervez during her first-team All-Big Ten senior campaign.

The Buckeyes have been perfect at the number four spot in the lineup to begin the season. Freshman Fidan Manashirova won the first two matches at No. 4 singles in the season-opening doubleheader over opponents from Xavier and Cleveland State. Since then, sophomore Kelsey Haviland has protected the spot with a flawless 5-0 ledger.

Kelsey Haviland continued her unblemished dual match campaign Wednesday against Minnette Pienaar of Kentucky. After dropping the first set, Haviland battled back to take the second set and proceeded to win the match after taking a 10-5 super tiebreaker.

The sophomore from Dayton, Ohio, has dropped just a single set since starting dual match season and is just one win away from matching her dual season win total from last year. She has 11 wins overall, only three off last year’s total mark.

Freshmen Fidan Manashirova and Gabby Steele pushed their tie for team-leading wins to 12 following Ohio State’s win over Kentucky. Haviland is close on their heels with 11. Manashirova owns the team’s best winning percentage (.857) with a 12-2 record.

Following the matches this weekend, the Buckeyes return home to face a pair of SEC opponents. LSU comes to Columbus Feb. 17 and Tennessee follows days later on Feb 20. Both matches will be held at The Ohio State University Varsity Tennis Center (880 West Henderson Road).