Jan. 18, 2005

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Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s tennis team opens the 2005 spring season with matches against No. 21 Notre Dame at noon and Cleveland State at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Jesse Owens West Recreation Center in Columbus, Ohio.

They’re Back
Although the Buckeyes saw four seniors, including the top three players from the singles lineup, exhaust their eligibility at the conclusion of the 2004 spring season, the cupboard is not bare. Head coach Chuck Merzbacher welcomes back another four-person senior class that includes the squad’s co-leaders in singles wins from 2004, Lindsey Adams (Sr., Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island) and Emily DeCamilla (Sr., Sacramento, Calif./Maryland).

Adams, a captain for the upcoming season, and DeCamilla, 2004 MVP, both scored 18 wins last spring and look to crack the 20-win mark this season. They will be flanked by fellow-seniors Lindsay Bryan (Sr., New Orleans, La./Ursuline Academy) the squad’s other captain, and Meredith Vincent (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Va. Tech) in her second year in the program after transferring from Virginia Tech.

Early Leaders
Heading into the spring season, sophomore Sonia Ruzimovsky (Soph., Brooklyn, Ny./Brooklyn Tech) leads the team in singles victories with a career-high 10.

In doubles, Lindsey Adams is Ohio State’s individual leader with seven wins. Kristin Messmer (Soph., Lutherville, Md./McDonogh) and Ruzimovsky are the top Buckeye duo with a record of 5-2.

Scouting Notre Dame
The No. 21-ranked Fighting Irish are coached by Jay Louderback. In 2004, Louderback’s 14th Irish squad finished 12-12, ranked No. 27.

Sophomore Catrina Thompson and freshman Brook Buck lead the Irish in singles. Thompson is ranked No. 69 and owns a record of 6-1, while Buck is 10-3 and ranked No. 85. Thompson and her sister Christian form the nation’s No. 2 doubles team with a record of 8-2.

Last season, Notre Dame earned a 5-2 win over the Buckeyes in South Bend and have won eight matches in a row vs. OSU. The Buckeyes, who are 3-11 all-time against the Fighting Irish, last beat Notre Dame in 1990, by a margin of 7-2 in Columbus.

Scouting Cleveland State
Cleveland State is unranked an coached by third-year head coach Brian Etzkin, whose squad was 10-16 last season while finishing fourth in the Horizon League.

Sarah Galon plays at the top of the singles lineup for the Vikings and owns a 5-5 record this season. Galon and Morgan Ungerott form the club’s top doubles team, going 2-2 at the No. 1 position.

The Buckeyes are 2-0 against the Vikings, including a 7-0 shutout victory last season in Columbus.

Merzbacher, Program Near Milestones
The 2005 spring season opens with milestone victories approaching for both the program and head coach Chuck Merzbacher.

With 10 more victories this season, the program will reach 400 all-time. Since posting a 7-1 record in its first year of competition in 1973, Ohio State has amassed a record of 390-358-1.

Entering his 16th year as a college head coach, Merzbacher needs only one victory to reach 250 for his career. Since beginning his career at 1989-90 at Northern Illinois, Merzbacher is 259-153.

Freshmen Get It Going
A trio of Ohio State freshmen earned their first collegiate singles wins during the fall season.

Caitlin O’Keefe (Fr., Troy, Mich./Troy) earned a three-set victory over Emily Vest of Middle Tennessee State, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, for her first win Sept. 17 in Knoxville, Tenn., in the first round of the University of Tennessee/St. Mary’s Fall Classic.

The following weekend at the Kentucky Fall Classic in Lexington, Ky., Silvia Prajescu (Fr., Dollard-Des-Orneaux, Quebec/Des-Sources) beat Alex de Guzman of William and Mary, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, for her first victory.

On Oct. 10 at the Eck Classic in South Bend, Ind., it was Nidhi Shah’s (Fr., Mumbai, India/Mithibai College) turn to break into the win column, topping Virginia’s Dora Bechliwanis in an eight-game pro set, 8-6.

Strong Starters
The Buckeyes will hope to continue their strong play in season openers.

Ohio State has won 16 of its last 17 openers, dating back to 1987. The Buckeyes’ only loss in that stretch came last season as they were edged by No. 10 Tennessee, 4-3, in Columbus.

Don’t Fear the Rankings
Notre Dame is ranked No. 21 in the ITA preseason poll and the Irish are the first of six Preseason Top 25 teams the No. 49-ranked Buckeyes face this season. Big Ten foes Northwestern, ranked No. 5, and Michigan, ranked No. 20, are joined on the schedule by No. 14 Kentucky, No. 18 Tennessee and No. 19 TCU.

Five other Big Ten teams are ranked in the Top 50, along with Ohio State, Northwestern and Michigan: No. 29 Indiana, No. 33 Illinois, No. 43 Iowa, No. 47 Purdue and No. 48 Wisconsin.

Auburn Match On the Move
The Feb. 19 match with Auburn, originally schedule to be played at 6 p.m. off-campus because of a conflict with the Ohio State men’s tennis team, has been moved back to campus. The match now is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Stickney Tennis Center (outdoor) or the Jesse Owens West Recreation Center (indoor).

Adams, O’Keefe, Ruzimovsky Succeed At ITA Midwest Regional
Three Buckeyes stood out Oct. 21-23 at the ITA Midwest Regional tournament in Minneapolis, Minn.

In singles, Sonia Ruzimovsky won three matches, over Mallory Stemle of IUPUI (6-1, 6-1), Pavlina Akritas of Illinois (6-2, 6-2) and Reedhina Parekh of Western Michigan (6-2, 5-7, 6-4), to qualify for the 64-player main draw.

In doubles, senior Lindsey Adams and freshman Caitlin O’Keefe teamed up to advance to the Round of 16 with victories over Minnesota’s Jane Anderson and Nischela Reddy, 8-3, in round one before beating Michelle Cunningham and Mallory Stemle of IUPU by an 8-4 margin in round two. O’Keefe and Adams were knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals after dropping a close 9-7 decision to Lindsay Martin and Katie McGaffigan of Wisconsin.

Messmer and Ruzimovsky Lead Way at Eck Classic
Sonia Ruzimovsky led the Buckeyes last weekend at the Eck Classic in South Bend, Ind., by winning seven total matches. Sunday, Ruzimovsky and Kristin Messmer combined to beat Virginia’s Lauren Brech and Rachel Del Priore, 8-2, to close out a perfect 4-0 doubles weekend that also included wins over Notre Dame’s Liz Donohoe and Bailey Louderback, 8-1, Michigan State’s Pascale Schnitzer and Karen Gustafson, 8-2, and Kansas’ Luiza Loureiro and Stephanie Smith, 8-3.

In singles, Ruzimovsky beat Loureiro in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0, Friday, Schnitzer in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, Saturday and Bruch,2-6, 7-6, 1-0(3), on Sunday.

Kentucky Fall Tournament Recap
The Buckeyes faced stiff competition Oct. 1-3 at the Kentucky Fall Classic in Lexington, Ky. Competing on the Wildcats’ home courts, Ohio State was led by the senior tandem of Lindsay Bryan and Meredith Vincent, who claimed the title in the green flight. In the flight championship match, Bryan and Vincent (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Virginia Tech) beat host Kentucky’s Foster and Sober, 9-7. The Buckeye duo reached the final with a pair of 8-6 victories over Marshall and White of Louisville and Yan and de Guzman of William and Mary.

Silvia Prajescu and Kristin Messmer led the Buckeyes in singles, both posting three victories against just one defeat.

Youngsters Lead Singles at Tennessee
Competing for the first time since losing four seniors from the 2003-04 squad to graduation, the Buckeyes were led by a pair of underclassmen who both earned a pair of victories at the University of Tennessee/St. Mary’s Fall Classic Sept. 17-19 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Sophomore Sonia Ruzimovsky and freshman Caitlin O’Keefe earned third place finishes with Day Three victories in their flights. Competing in Flight Six, Ruzimovsky swept Bonnie Baird of Furman, 7-6, 6-1, for her second victory of the weekend while O’Keefe earned her second win by topping fellow-Buckeye Lindsay Bryan, 6-5, 6-4, in Flight Three. Ruzimovsky also dispatched Alisha Talbot of Wake Forest and O’Keefe beat Emily Vest of Middle Tennessee State in first round action.

Returnees Enjoy Doubles Success
In contrast to singles action at Tennessee, Ohio State’s doubles play was dominated by upperclassmen. The senior doubles team of Emily DeCamilla and Lindsey Adams picked up two wins, a number matched by another upperclassmen duo, Emily Howard and Meredith Vincent.

DeCamilla and Adams beat Marti Morris and Mary Neill Hagood of Furman, 9-7, on Day Two to earn fifth place in Flight One. They also topped Barbara Orlay and Julia Roach of North Carolina State previously.

Vincent and Howard defeated Emily Vest and Claudia Szabo of Middle Tennessee State, 8-4, in Round One of Flight Three and teammates Silvia Prajescu and Lindsay Bryan in a third place match.

Home Cooking
Ohio State will hope to continue its recent dominance at home, where it has won at a .750 percentage over the past two seasons. In only nine home matches a year ago, the Buckeyes posted a 7-2 record, with both losses coming at the hands of teams ranked in the Top 20.

Recruiting News
The Buckeyes have signed two student-athletes, Julie Blackmore, a senior at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Julie Voss, a senior from San Angelo, Texas, who attends St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, to NCAA National Letters of Intent to attend Ohio State and join the Buckeyes tennis team beginning in Fall 2005.

Blackmore currently is ranked No. 47 in the nation and No. 11 in Florida in the Girls’ Under-18 USTA rankings. She is a three-time state champion in singles and doubles in Division 2A and reached the Round of 16 in singles and the quarterfinals in doubles at the National Clay Courts meet in Memphis, Tenn., earlier this year. Blackmore, whose father, Bob, is an Ohio State alumnus, also is on the honor roll.

Voss, who plays for St. Stephen’s Tennis Academy, has been ranked in the Top 10 in Texas since age 10 and currently is ranked No. 9 in the state in the Girls’ Under-18 age group. She has been ranked as high as No. 14 nationally and recently advanced to the round of 16 of the International Tennis Federation tournament in El Paso, Texas. Voss also is a top student and a talented musician.

Recapping Last Season
The Buckeyes were 7-2 on their home courts and secured a program-record sixth consecutive NCAA bid with a run to the final match at the Big Ten championship. By virtue of their runner-up finish at the Big Ten championship, the Buckeyes finished second in the final conference standings.

Once in the NCAA tournament, the Buckeyes marked another milestone by defeating host Harvard, 4-2, to advance to the second round, where they were defeated by No. 17 Kentucky. In the win against Harvard, the Buckeyes won the doubles point for the 15th time in 2004 and a got a trio of three-set singles victories. Jackie Leskovar and Lindsay Bryan scored victories at the No. 3 and No. 6 positions, respectively, before Emily DeCamilla earned the clincher at No. 4. The win was the second in school history in the NCAA championship. The Buckeyes defeated Miami (Fla.), 5-3, in 2000 in Athens, Ga.

Next Up
After squaring off with the Fighting Irish and Vikings, Ohio State resumes play by taking on Western Michigan at 10 a.m. and Youngstown State at 4 p.m. Jan. 29 in Columbus, Ohio.