Feb. 11, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 55-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team will close out its five-game homestand vs. Kentucky (3-2, 0-0 SEC) at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Varsity Tennis Center (880 West Henderson Road). The Scarlet and Gray (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten) look to defend their home court before traveling to Knoxville, Tenn., for their second road match of the season Sunday.

Follow Along
For fans unable to get to the Buckeyes’ matches this season, live stats are available online: For all indoor matches, live video is available: Match updates are also on the team’s Twitter page: @OhioState_WTEN.

Familiar Foe
The Buckeyes competed against Kentucky twice during the fall campaign, both at the Muirfield Collegiate Tennis Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, and the Lady Vols Classic in Knoxville, Tenn.

At the Muirfield Collegiate Tennis Invitational, Buckeye senior Gabby Steele defeated Wildcat Caitlin McGraw, 7-5, 6-1, in the round of 16 of main draw singles play. In the singles backdraw, junior Noelle Malley defeated Kentucky’s Stephanie Fox in a super tiebreaker after losing the first set (5-7, 6-4, 10-7).

The Buckeye tandem of Malley and Kelsey Becker fell to Kentucky’s McGraw and Kirsten Lewis in a 9-8 (7-4) super tiebreaker. McGraw and Lewis then faced Fidan Manashirova and Steele, who defeated the Wildcats 8-4 in the quarterfinals.

At the Lady Vols Classic, the Buckeyes split the singles decisions in the hidden dual format. Manashirova rallied after losing set one to defeat Kirsten Lewis in three sets, 2-6, 7-6, 6-1. Steele held off Kentucky’s Caitlin McGraw, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Malley came back after dropping set one against Kentucky’s Stephanie Fox to win in three, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.

The Buckeyes are 6-13 all-time vs. the Wildcats. The teams last met in 2011, when Ohio State came back from a 2-0 deficit to top Kentucky, 4-3, in Lexington. Cecil, Steele, Manashirova and former Buckeye Cami Hubbs claimed the singles wins in that match.

Wildcat Wisdom
Kentucky is 3-2 this spring, with wins over Morehead State, Belmont and Marshall and losses against Penn State and Tulane. The squad lost on the road to the Green Wave, 6-1, Saturday in its last time out.

The Wildcats’ Nadia Ravita was slotted 78th, with Caitlin McGraw No. 117 in the most recent ITA singles rankings. Ravita is 4-0 at No. 1 singles this spring to tie Stephanie Fox for the team lead with four dual-match wins.

Last Time Out vs. No. 17 Nebraska
The Buckeyes dropped their first match of the season Feb. 2 vs. No. 17 Nebraska, 4-2. Fidan Manashirova and Grainne O’Neill earned points for the Buckeyes in the Big Ten opener with their singles victories.

The conference foes split the first two finishes in doubles. The OSU tandem of Manashirova and Nicole Flower lost to Nebraska’s Mary Weatherholt and Patricia Veresova, 8-3, on court one. Gabby Steele and O’Neill finished second, defeating Maggy Lehmicke and Maike Zeppernick, 8-3, on court three.

In the battle for court two and the doubles point, the Buckeye duo of Kara Cecil and Kelsey Dieters rallied but fell short against Stephanie Weinstein and Janine Weinreich in a tiebreaker to decide the doubles decision, 9-8 (9-7).

In singles matchups, O’Neill battled back after dropping the second set to defeat Maggy Lehmicke in a supertiebreaker, 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 1-0 (11-9). Manashirova topped Weinreich, 6-4, 6-3, in straight sets.

Playing at the No. 1 position in singles, No. 41 Kelsey Dieters lost in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 against reigning Big Ten Athlete of the Week Mary Weatherholt. On court two, Cecil fell to Veresova, 3-6, 6-1, while Flower dropped her match against Izabella Zgierska, 6-1, 6-3. Due to time constraints, Gabby Steele and Stefanie Weinstein did not finish their match after splitting the first two sets, 7-6 (7-5), 5-7.

By the Numbers
This season, the Buckeyes have recorded an 86.2 percent winning percentage in singles dual matches and a 73.3 percent winning percentage in doubles dual matches.

Senior Gabby Steele has notched eight straight singles victories despite not finishing her match against Nebraska’s Stefanie Weinstein because of time constraints.

Although she has not competed in the past two dual matchups for Ohio State, Noelle Malley has also posted eight consecutive singles victories.

Kara Cecil, Kelsey Dieters, Grainne O’Neill and Steele share the team lead with four dual-match wins each. Steele has a team-high 13 singles wins in 2012-13, followed by Fidan Manashirova with 12, Malley and Dieters with 11 and Cecil with 10.

The doubles duo of Cecil and Dieters is 9-5 overall this season and has a 4-1 dual mark, including a 3-0 ledger at No. 1.

The Buckeyes are undefeated at the No. 4 and No. 5 singles positions this spring.

Looking Ahead
Ohio State will travel for its next three matches and the squad has just one home date (March 3) in its next six outings, including the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic March 15-17 in Montgomery, Ala. The March 3 date features a double header in the Varsity Tennis Center, as the Buckeyes will host Penn State in a Big Ten match at noon and take on Youngstown State at 6 p.m.