May 22, 2017

No. 2 Buckeyes Lose Heartbreaker in NCAA Semifinals


May 22, 2017

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s tennis team’s season came to a close Monday with a 4-3 loss to Stanford in the NCAA Championship semifinals. The Buckeyes, who had their program-record winning streak stopped at 18, end the year 32-3 overall, setting the program record for wins in a season.

In a match originally slated to start outdoors at 2 p.m. in Athens, Ga., No. 3 seed Ohio State and No. 7 Stanford eventually faced off at 8 p.m. in Atlanta. The match was the first for the Buckeyes in the NCAA semifinals in program history.

Ohio State claimed the doubles point and won the first singles match for a 2-0 lead. The Cardinal won the next three matches to pull ahead, 3-2, with two straight-set victories and a three-set win. Buckeye seniors Miho Kowase and Gabriella De Santis both rallied from a set down to force a decisive third set. Kowase won her third set to tie the match at three. De Santis’ match on court three went to a tiebreaker, with Stanford prevailing to clinch the match and spot in the NCAA final.

“We had chances,” Melissa Schaub, Ohio State head coach, said. “I told these guys how proud I am of them and the team they are. It was a gritty performance today. We lost five first sets; we turned a couple of them and had chances. I am proud of the fight.”

For the second match in a row, the Buckeyes won the doubles point with victories on courts two and three. The Buckeye duo of junior Anna Sanford and senior Sandy Niehaus defeated No. 46-ranked Melissa Lord and Caroline Doyle, 6-2, on court two, followed by a 6-1 win by the senior tandem of Ferny Angeles Paz and De Santis over Emma Higuchi and Caroline Lampl on court three. The match on court one between No. 18-ranked Kowase and Francesca Di Lorenzo for the Buckeyes and the No. 39-ranked team of Emily Arbuthnott and Taylor Davidson was stopped at 4-4. Niehaus ends her career as the program’s all-time leader in doubles wins (102) and also had 102 singles victories.

Di Lorenzo, the nation’s top-ranked player all spring, won 6-1, 6-0 on court one to put the Buckeyes up 2-0. She has won 21 straight matches and is 26-1 this spring, with a 36-1 mark overall.

Stanford won the next three matches to take a 3-2 lead. On court five, Arbuthnott won 6-4, 6-3 over No. 112 Niehaus, ending the Buckeye senior’s 19-match winning streak. On court two, No. 67 Sanford dropped the first set 6-4 against No. 28 Lord but claimed the second 6-3 to force a third set, which was won by Lord, 6-1. No. 71 Higuchi defeated Angeles Paz, 6-3, 7-5, on court six to put the Cardinal ahead 3-2.

No. 91 Kowase claimed a close match on court four against No. 90 Lampl to tie the match at 3. Lampl won the opening set 6-3. In the second, Kowase won in a tiebreaker, dominating the tiebreaker, 7-0. The third set was back and forth and Kowase broke before holding to close out the match, 7-5. Kowase was undefeated all spring, with a perfect 27-0 mark. She was 34-3 overall on the year and ends her career as the program leader in singles wins with 112.

On court four, No. 95 De Santis dropped the first set to No. 54 Davidson, 6-4. The Buckeye senior won the second, 6-2, to force a third set. In the third, De Santis had two chances to serve for the match, but was broken each time. In the tiebreaker, the players held for 3-3 before Davidson won three points in a row to pull ahead 6-3. De Santis won the next two points, but after a long rally on Davidson’s serve, a shot went long to give the Cardinal the match.

The match was the final team match for the Buckeyes’ four seniors – Angeles Paz, De Santis Kowase and Niehaus. The group, part of 102 team wins, was the winningest senior class in program history. It was part of four NCAA appearances, including the first quarterfinal and semifinal runs, and won back-to-back Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.

Di Lorenzo and Kowase will continue their seasons in the NCAA individual championships, slated for Wednesday through Monday in Athens, Ga. Di Lorenzo is the No. 1 seed in the singles championship and she and Kowase were an at-large selection to the doubles tournament.

Stanford vs Ohio State
May 22, 2017 at Atlanta, Ga.
(Bill Moore Indoor Facility)

#6 Stanford 4, #2 Ohio State 3

Singles competition
1. #1 Francesca Di Lorenzo (OSU) def. #38 Caroline Doyle (STANFORD) 6-1, 6-0
2. #28 Melissa Lord (STANFORD) def. #67 Anna Sanford (OSU) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
3. #54 Taylor Davidson (STANFORD) def. #95 Gabriella De Santis (OSU) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5)
4. #91 Miho Kowase (OSU) def. #90 Caroline Lampl (STANFORD) 3-6, 7-6 (7-0), 7-5
5. Emily Arbuthnott (STANFORD) def. #112 Sandy Niehaus (OSU) 6-4, 6-3
6. #71 Emma Higuchi (STANFORD) def. Ferny Angeles Paz (OSU) 6-3, 7-5

Doubles competition
1. #18 Miho Kowase/Francesca Di Lorenzo (OSU) vs. #39 Emily Arbuthnott/Taylor Davidson (STANFORD) 4-4, unfinished
2. Anna Sanford/Sandy Niehaus (OSU) def. #46 Melissa Lord/Caroline Doyle (STANFORD) 6-2
3. Ferny Angeles Paz/Gabriella De Santis (OSU) def. Emma Higuchi/Caroline Lampl (STANFORD) 6-1

Match Notes:
Stanford 26-2; National ranking #6
Ohio State 32-3; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (1,5,2,6,4,3)
NCAA Championship Semifinals