COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 45th-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (14-4, 1-1 Big Ten) earned its 14th win of the season following a 4-3 victory over the No. 40 Rice Owls (9-6) on the road in Houston, Texas, Saturday afternoon. The Buckeyes dropped the doubles point but won four singles matches for the victory, with freshman Gabby Steele clinching the win with a three-set victory at No. 4.

The Owls won the final two doubles matches to take the team point after the top Buckeye duo of Cami Hubbs and Kelsey Haviland downed the 41st-ranked twosome of Julie Chao and Ana Guzman, 8-1. Rebekka Hänle and Rebecca Lin bested Ohio State’s Fidan Manashirova and Gabby Steele on court three, 8-2, to tie the teams.

With the match on court two the deciding factor, the Buckeyes’ Paloma Escobedo and Christina Keesey battled Jessica Jackson and Daniella Trigo, but fell to the Owl tandem in a tiebreaker, 9-8 (5).

In singles, Hubbs was off the court first for the Buckeyes, defeating Trigo at the number six spot, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0, to tie the match. In the top singles match of the day, Kirsten Flower, ranked No. 61 in the nation, took her match against Hänle in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2. The victory was the sixth-consecutive for the Buckeye senior.

Down 2-1, Rice tied it up after No. 106 Jackson held off Haviland in the third set to take the match, 6-2, 1-6, 6-1. The Buckeyes climbed into the lead when Escobedo earned her 10th spring victory in a match against Chao on court two, winning 6-1, 7-5.

Lin notched a win against Keesey in straight sets on court five, taking the match 7-5, 7-5, to tie the score at 3 apiece.

The outcome of the match came down to the action on court four between the Buckeyes’ Steele and Rice’s Guzman. Guzman took the first set, but the freshman from Ohio State stormed back to take the final two sets and the match, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, and clinch the win for the Scarlet and Gray. The victory moved Steele’s singles win total to 20, making her the first Buckeye to reach the mark this season.

The Buckeyes return home Friday to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers and kick off the first of eight conference matches in April. The match is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start outside at the Stickney Tennis Center. Sunday (April 4) the Buckeyes will host Iowa at 11 a.m. In the case of inclement weather, the matches will be moved to the Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center.

Tennis Match Results
Ohio State vs Rice
3/27/2010 at Houston, Texas
(Jake Hess Tennis Stadium)

#45 Ohio State 4, #40 Rice 3

Singles competition
1. #61 Kirsten Flower (OSU) def. Rebekka Hänle (RICE) 7-5, 6-2
2. Paloma Escobedo (OSU) def. Julie Chao (RICE) 6-1, 7-5
3. #106 Jessica Jackson (RICE) def. Kelsey Haviland (OSU) 6-2, 1-6, 6-1
4. Gabby Steele (OSU) def. Ana Guzman (RICE) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
5. Rebecca Lin (RICE) def. Christina Keesey (OSU) 7-5, 7-5
6. Cami Hubbs (OSU) def. Daniella Trigo (RICE) 6-4, 4-6, 6-0

Doubles competition
1. Kelsey Haviland/Cami Hubbs (OSU) def. #41 Julie Chao/Ana Guzman (RICE) 8-1
2. Jessica Jackson/Daniella Trigo (RICE) def. Paloma Escobedo/Christina Keesey (OSU) 9-8 (7-5)
3. Rebekka Hänle/Rebecca Lin (RICE) def. Gabby Steele/Fidan Manashirova (OSU) 8-2

Match Notes:
Ohio State 14-4; National ranking #45
Rice 9-6; National ranking #40
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (6,1,3,2,5,4)