May 7, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s tennis team will begin its journey in the 2014 NCAA Championship at 10 a.m. Friday when it takes on South Carolina in the first round at the Ambler Tennis Center in Durham, N.C. The 35th-ranked Buckeyes, who earned one of 33 at-large bids into the tournament, will join host Duke, East Tennessee State and first-round opponent South Carolina in hopes of advancing to the Round of 16 next week in Athens, Ga.
The Buckeyes and No. 30-ranked Gamecocks will face off in the first match of the tournament at 10 a.m., followed by host and fourth-seeded Duke taking on East Tennessee State at 1 p.m. The winner of each match will advance to second round action at 3 p.m. Saturday. Winners from each of the 16 campus sites will advance to the NCAA Championship May 17-20 in Athens, Ga.
LEADING THE WAY
Freshman Sandy Niehaus leads the squad with 31 overall wins, ranking second all-time for a Buckeye freshman and tied for second for a single season overall. Freshman Miho Kowase has earned 25 singles wins, with a 16-4 record on court two this spring, to tie for fifth in freshman wins. Ferny Angeles Paz has won four-straight singles match to improve to 24-8 this season, while 81st-ranked Gabriella De Santis and sophomore Grainne O’Neill have each totaled 21 wins. Niehaus and De Santis each nabbed a team-best nine wins in B1G play.
In doubles, the Buckeye duo of Niehaus and De Santis has captured 13-consecutive wins, earning a team-best 18 victories this season with a 14-1 record in dual matches. Kowase and Angeles Paz combined for a 15-1 ledger this spring, dropping their first match of the spring in a tiebreaker vs. Northwestern’s Brooke Rischbieth and Belina Niu in the B1G semifinals April 29. Each tandem earned a 7-0 record in conference play.
Gabriella De Santis, Miho Kowase, Sandy Niehaus and Noelle Malley were honored with Big Ten Awards at the annual B1G Tournament banquet April 24 in Evanston, Ill. De Santis was named the B1G Freshman of the Year, becoming the second Buckeye in program history to receive the honor and the first since Kristy Dascoli in 1998. The Caracas, Venezuela, native was also a unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selection.
Kowase also earned First Team All-Big Ten accolades, while Niehaus was named to the second team. The All-Big Ten selections mark the first career conference laurels for the freshmen, with De Santis and Kowase the first Buckeyes to earn a spot on the first team since Kirsten Flower in 2010 and Niehaus the first second team selection since Kelsey Haviland in 2011. Malley, a senior from Kansas City, Mo., was named Ohio State’s sportsmanship award winner.
B1G TOURNAMENT WRAPUP
After receiving a bye to the quarterfinals, the third-seeded Buckeyes advanced to the semifinals of the 2014 B1G Tournament with a 4-0 victory vs. Minnesota. The squad claimed the doubles point and three straight-set singles victories to capture the quarterfinal match against the Gophers. In semifinal action, the Buckeyes fell to second-seeded and 16th-ranked Northwestern, 4-0.
BUCKEYES IN THE RANKINGS
Freshman Gabriella De Santis is ranked 85th in singles in the latest ITA poll, released May 1. She is 21-11 overall with 13 wins at No. 1 singles and four wins vs. ranked opponents. The Buckeye tandem of Noelle Malley and Grainne O’Neill checks in at the No. 62 spot in the poll. The pair is 8-8 this year, with all matches played at No. 1 doubles.
OHIO STATE IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Ohio State has made 11 NCAA appearances all-time (1996,1999,2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009), advancing to the second round three times (2000,2004, 2010). This marks the first trip to the NCAA tournament for the Buckeyes under second-year head coach Melissa Schaub and the first for the squad since 2010 when Ohio State advanced to the second round of play in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Scarlet and Gray have faced nine tournament-bound squads this season and are one of four B1G squads in the tournament, including B1G Tournament Champion Northwestern, B1G regular season champion Michigan and Purdue.
SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina received an at-large bid into the NCAA championship and is making its 20th-consecutive appearance. The 30th-ranked Gamecocks are 16-10 overall, going 6-7 in SEC outings this spring. The duo of Dominika Kanakova and Elixane Lechemia also earned an at-large bid to the NCAA doubles championship and are ranked No. 26 in the latest ITA poll, while the pair of Katerina Popova and Meghan Blevins hold the No. 51 spot in the rankings. In singles, Lechemia is ranked 73rd and Popova is No. 107.
Ohio State last met South Carolina in 2009, a 4-3 Buckeye win in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes are 3-1 all-time vs. the Gamecocks.
A LOOK AT THE BLUE DEVILS
The fourth-seeded and fifth-ranked Duke squad will host the first and second rounds, earning its 25th consecutive bid to the tournament. The Blue Devils enter the tournament with a 24-4 overall record, most recently falling to Virginia in the ACC Championship match April 27. The Blue Devils have four players ranked in the latest ITA singles rankings (No. 7 Beatrice Capra, No. 27 Ester Goldfeld, No. 36 Hanna Mar and No. 116 Chalena Scholl) and five tandems in the doubles rankings (No. 5 Capra/Mar, No. 36 Goldfeld/Alyssa Smith, No. 45 Annie Mulholland/Goldfeld, No. 61 Goldfeld/Jodoin and No. 69 Mulholland/Scholl).
The Buckeyes and Blue Devils have met six times. In the last meeting, Ohio State fell to Duke, 4-2, in 2009.
ON EAST TENNESSEE STATE
East Tennessee State earned an automatic bid to the tournament after clinching the Atlantic Sun championship match vs. Stetson, 4-0. The Bucs hold an overall record of 14-8, winning 11 of their last 12 matches heading into postseason play. Ohio State and East Tennessee State have never faced off on the tennis court.
PERFECT AT HOME IN 2014
The Buckeyes finished their home schedule a perfect 12-0 this season. The Buckeyes last notched 12 or more consecutive home wins in a season in 2002, when the squad captured a program-record 14-straight matches at home.