Jan. 18, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 22 Buckeyes kick off their spring season Sunday when they travel to Pittsburgh to battle the Mountaineers of West Virginia. OSU leads the overall series, 9-0, including a 9-0 sweep of the match last year.

We’re All Here
All eight student-athletes from last year’s NCAA-qualifying team have returned for the Buckeyes this season.

Leading the Buckeyes
Kristy Dascoli (Sr., Bradenton, Fla./Bradenton Academy) is back for her final season at first singles for the Buckeye squad. She led OSU in the fall with a 10-4 record and became OSU’s all-time record holder for singles wins with 82.

Monica Rincon (Jr., Lapeer, Mich./Lapeer West) also had a strong fall season. Rincon, who was named the ITA Midwest Region Player to Watch at the end of last year, went 7-3, and teamed up with Dascoli in doubles to notch an 8-4 record. She set the program record for most wins in a season with 30 last year.

Scouting West Virginia
The Mountaineers are led by first-year coach Alicia von Lossberg and return six letterwinners from last year’s team (10-12 overall/4-1 Big East) that finished sixth in the Big East Tournament. WVU is unranked as a team and does not have any players nationally or regionally ranked.

At the Helm
Coach Chuck Merzbacher (Minnesota, ’87), in his fifth season, has enjoyed much success since becoming the head man at OSU. He has compiled a 54-46 record, but has taken the Buckeyes from pretenders to contenders on the Big Ten and national stage. In Merzbacher’s first year, 1996-97, the team finished ninth in the Big Ten, but in only his fourth season the squad earned the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament and finished third.

The National Rankings
The Buckeyes are ranked a program-record tying 22nd in the most recent rankings released by the ITA (Dec. 12). The squad is ranked No. 3 in the region, behind only Notre Dame and Northwestern. Among the Nation’s Best
Two Buckeyes were ranked nationally in singles in the ITA rankings. Kristy Dascoli is ranked a program-record No. 19 in singles, breaking her previous high of No. 32. Monica Rincon is ranked No. 83.

In doubles, Dascoli and Rincon achieved a program-best ranking of No. 5. The tandem of Laura Maloney and Erica Fisk is No. 39.

The Best in the Region
Regionally, four Buckeyes are ranked in singles, while two doubles teams are among the Top 10 teams in the Midwest Region. Leading the way is Kristy Dascoli, who is ranked second. Monica Rincon follows at No. 6. Freshman Erica Fisk is rated No. 18 and sophomore Sadhaf Pervez is No. 22. In doubles, Dascoli and Rincon are ranked second. The tandem of Pervez and Lindsay Williams holds the No. 9 spot. The duo has recorded wins over ranked teams in its last three outings. In that streak, Dascoli and Rincon defeated No. 30 Nasser/Cheng of Northwestern, No. 19 Embry/Taheny of Purdue and No. 32 Anderson/Blanch of Indiana.

The Big Ten Tourney
This season, the Buckeyes have the honor of hosting the Big Ten Tennis Championships at the Stickney Tennis Center. All 11 conference schools will compete in the tournament, scheduled for April 26-29, 2001. The tournament champion receives the Big Ten’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.

The Big Ten is Tough
Once again this season, the competition in the Big Ten will be tough, as eight conference teams, including Ohio State, are ranked by the ITA. Northwestern has the highest ranking at No. 16, followed by Ohio State (22), Illinois (33), Minnesota (35), Iowa (44), Indiana (49), Michigan (57) and Purdue (58).

The Team Indoors
This season, the Buckeyes have been invited to participate in the ITA Team Indoors in Madison, Wis., Feb. 15-18. Sixteen of the Top 25 teams in the nation will participate in the prestigious event.

Highlights of 1999-2000
In 1999-00, the Buckeyes were 18-8 overall and 9-2 in Big Ten play. The team finished third in the Big Ten tournament after earning the No. 1 seed. The team qualified for the NCAA championships for the second-consecutive season in a row. In addition the team earned the highest ranking in program history (No. 22), tied the school record for wins in a season (18) and went undefeated (11-0)at home. Recorded the program’s first NCAA postseason victory by deafeating the Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes.

Kristy Dascoli, a two-time All-Big Ten honoree, qualified for the national tournament for the third consecutive season. She is the only player in OSU history to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Monica Rincon partnered with Dascoli to qualify for the NCAA Doubles Championship. The duo ended the season ranked No. 18 after an upset win in the first round. Rincon set a program record for most wins in a season (30) while playing No. 2 singles.