Feb. 1, 2007

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Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s tennis team (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) will compete in its first road match of the spring season when it faces West Virginia (2-0, 0-0 Big East) Friday. The Buckeyes and Mountaineers will meet at 3 p.m. at the Ridgeview Racquet and Fitness Club in Morgantown, W. Va.

Ohio State opened its spring season at home with 7-0 victories over both Bowling Green and Cincinnati Jan. 27 at Jesse Owens West Tennis Center. The Buckeyes swept all six singles matches, including three-set wins at the top two spots, and were 2-1 in doubles vs. Bowling Green. The Buckeyes now are 24-0 all-time vs. the Falcons. Against Cincinnati, the Buckeyes won all six singles and three doubles matches against the Bearcats. The Buckeyes are 14-0 all-time against the Bearcats.

In program history, Ohio State is 123-17 against teams from Ohio.

Four Buckeyes – Julie Blackmore, Sonia Ruzimovsky, Christina Keesey and Caitlin O’Keefe – were a perfect 4-0 on the day last Saturday, with two wins in both singles and doubles in the matches vs. Bowling Green and Cincinnati combined. A LOOK AT THE MOUNTAINEERS
West Virginia is facing the Buckeyes for its third match of the spring season after shutting out Akron and Morehead State (7-0) at home Jan. 28 to open the campaign. The squad is led by first-year head coach Marc Walters (Fairmont State ’87). The Mountaineers were 11-12 last year and finished sixth in the Big East with an 8-5 ledger.

Competing for the Mountaineers this season are a number of newcomers, along with seniors Kelly Walsh and Ashley Constantine. Last spring, the Buckeyes defeated West Virginia 6-1 at home in Columbus. The Buckeyes have a 12-0 all-time record against the Mountaineers. The teams last met in Morgantown Feb. 28, 1992, with Ohio State posting a 7-2 victory.

Leading the Buckeyes in singles wins so far this season is freshman Christina Keesey, who has recorded a 9-3 record overall. Senior Kristin Messmer, sophomore Angela DiPastina and freshman Ally Mueller are tied for second with eight wins each.

In doubles, sophomore Julie Blackmore has a team-best nine wins, followed by Keesey and Messmer with seven victories each.

The two Buckeye freshmen, Ally Mueller and Christina Keesey, posted their first collegiate wins in both singles and doubles at the Princeton Invitational in the fall season opener. Keesey posted her first singles win beating Lillian Nguyen of Yale, 6-2, 7-5. Mueller played her first singles match for the Buckeyes, beating Buffalo’s Katrine Fisher, 6-4, 6-1. In the tournament, Keesey was 8-0 combined (4-0 singles, 4-0 doubles) to lead the Buckeyes in wins. Mueller was 5-1 overall (2-0 singles, 3-1 doubles).

On the first day of dual match play against Bowling Green and Cincinnati, Keesey was 2-0 in both singles and doubles, with wins at the Nos. 2 and 3 singles positions and two victories with Julie Blackmore at the No. 3 doubles spot. Mueller was 2-0 at No. 5 singles.

Buckeye head coach Chuck Merzbacher announced the signing of two NCAA National Letters of Intent from top recruits Paloma Escobedo and Cameron Hubbs in . Escobedo, who hails from Houston, Texas, and Hubbs, who resides in Omaha, Neb., will both begin playing for the Buckeyes in the fall of 2007.

Merzbacher is looking forward to the talent that Escobedo and Hubbs will bring to the team.

“This could be the best class we’ve had in the 10 years I’ve been here,” Merzbacher said. “I think this class, combined with the team we have returning for the next several years, will propel us back to the top of the conference standings. These two young women can have an instant impact on the program with their fine character, strong academics and high-level tennis experience.”

Escobedo is ranked No. 19 in the class of 2007. She holds the top spot for the Girls’ 18s in Texas and is ranked 54th in the nation. Escobedo was a member of the Texas Fed Cup team who went undefeated in August at the 2006 UTSA Girl’s 18 Fed Cup Championships and posted a 5-2 record in the same month at the 2006 Girls 18 and Under Super Nationals in San Jose, Calif.

Hubbs is ranked No. 52 among the class of 2007. She currently holds the third-ranked spot in 2006 for 18s individual doubles and is seventh-ranked when combined with her doubles partner, Kristen Rafael. Hubbs notched a fourth place win at the UTSA Super Nationals with Rafael among 18s doubles in 2006 and is currently undefeated at the Nebraska State Tennis Championships, where she has held the title since 2004.

Ohio State enjoyed a competitive fall season, appearing in four tournaments around the Midwest and New Jersey. The Buckeyes opened with The Princeton Invitational then went on to compete in the Cissie Leary Classic and Deacon Classic. Nine players also were sent to East Lansing, Michigan to play in the ITA Midwest Regional’s in singles, doubles, or both.

The Buckeyes return all but one player (nine letter winners) from the 2006 squad. The squad lost senior captain Emily Howard, but returned seniors Ciara Finucane, Kristin Messmer and Sonia Ruzimovsky, juniors Caitlin O’Keefe and Nidhi Shah and sophomores Julie Blackmore, Angela DiPastina, Sara Kinning and Julie Voss.

O’Keefe earned 15 wins last season, with six coming at the No. 1 and 2 spots. Blackmore gained 16 wins for the team, and at the No. 3 spot obtained 10 victories and clinching a few wins at the No. 2 and 4 spots as well. Voss put up eight more wins for the Buckeyes and saw much playing time as a freshman. She was at the No. 6 position for most of the spring season and in the summer finished first overall in the singles match in the South West Region of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Collegiate Summer Circuit. Kinning also saw much playing time as a freshman and had appeared once last season with a win in the No. 6 position. Shah in 2006 obtained two wins for the team playing in three matches and will look to see more action this coming season.

The Buckeyes will take on nine teams currently ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national poll, including Top 10 teams Notre Dame (4th) and Northwestern (8th). In addition, Ohio State will go up against No. 22 Michigan, No. 25 William & Mary, No. 36 Purdue, No. 60 Marshall, No. 71 Louisville, No. 73 Michigan State and No. 75 Auburn.

Following the match against West Virginia, the Buckeyes will have three matches next weekend. The squad will face Marquette at 3 p.m. Feb. 9 to open the weekend. Feb. 11, Ohio State will host Virginia Tech at 10 a.m. and Miami (Ohio) at 6 p.m. All matches will be held at Jesse Owens West Tennis Center.

The Buckeyes then will be on the road the rest of February, with five-consecutive matches away from Columbus.