Feb. 11, 2003

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – After opening the season with three away games followed by a week off, the Buckeyes return home to face Big Ten rivals Michigan State and Michigan Friday and Sunday, respectively. The No. 41 ranked team is 3-0 overall and is 1-0 in the Big Ten.

Ohio State is ranked No. 41 in the Feb. 5 preseason poll. Sadhaf Pervez is ranked No. 75 in the preseason poll. The Buckeyes are the fourth Big Ten team to appear in the rankings with Northwestern at No. 14, Wisconsin at No. 27 and Michigan at No. 30.

In the fall regional rankings released Dec. 10, Pervez is ranked No. 7 and Erica Fisk is ranked No. 25. The duo of Meaghan Colville and Fisk are ranked No. 13 in the region.

Michigan State is 5-3 on the season and has yet to play a Big Ten match. After opening the season with losses to Vanderbilt and Louisville, the Spartans have won 5-of-6, including their last three matches against Miami, DePaul and Eastern Michigan.

The Spartans are without their No. 1 player Dora Vastag, who was ranked No. 117 and will miss the entire season after tearing her meniscus. Filling the void is Caroline Lay who has posted a 3-3 at the No. 1 spot. Also, Keri Thompson is 3-0 at the No. 5 position and 10-2 on the season. Tim Bauer is in his fourth year rebuilding the Spartan women’s tennis program. He led the Spartans to an 11-12 record last season, which was the program’s best mark since 1999. The Spartans – which only used two second-year players and five first-year players in its spring lineup – finished 2002 ranked No. 62, the highest ranking of the season. MSU was also ranked 10th in the Midwest Region and Dora Vastag was the 19th-ranked singles player in the Midwest. The Spartans won three of their Big Ten matches, which was the most conference wins in nine seasons.

No. 30 Michigan (3-1) returns all six singles starters and three doubles teams from last season’s squad, which tied for fourth in the Big Ten and was a NCAA tournament qualifier. In the Wolverines last outing they upset No. 14 Kentucky, 4-3, in Lexington, Ky. Michigan has suffered only one loss this year to No. 11 Tennessee.

No. 99 sophomore Michelle DeCosta is 1-has already has faced top-ranked opponents including No. 4 Vilmarie Castellvi (UT) and No. 37 Sarah Witten (UK). Junior Kavitha Tipirneni and sophomore Leanne Rutherford also have recorded victories over ranked opponents for the Wolverines this year.

Betsy Ritt, women’s tennis head coach, is in her 19th season at Michigan and holds a career record of 229-204. Ritt has developed a well-rounded program both on the court and in the classroom and has one Big Ten championship (1996-97) and has led the Wolverines four NCAA Tournament appearances.

The women’s tennis team will be without Merzbacher for the next couple of weeks as he recovers from back surgery. He is expected to return courtside later this season. Until then, assistant coach Frank Polito will take over at the helm of the program.

Seniors Michelle Matko and Sadhaf Pervez both are in the Top 10 for career victories in the Ohio State record books. Pervez currently is third with 84 wins and Matko is not far behind with 71 wins. The program record is 104 victories held by Kristy Dascoli (1998-01) and the next milestone (No. 2) is set at 101 wins.

All-Time Singles Wins at OSU
1. Kristy Dascoli, 104 (1998-01)
2. Monica Rincon, 101 (1999-02)
3. Sadhaf Pervez, 84 (2000-present)
4. Maria Olazagatsti, 81 (1977-79)
5. Linda Magid, 78 (1995-96)
6. Michelle Matko, 71 (1999-present)
7. Leann Grimes, 68 (1975-78)
8. Ann Wilson, 67 (1974-77)
9. Abigail Villena, 66 (1990-93)
10. Ann Beaudoin, 65 (1971-82)

Ohio State will spend most of the 2002 season on the road. Of its 22 dual matches, 15 of them will be away. The squad compiled a 21-4 record at home over the last two years.

The addition of two NCAA tournament qualifiers to the OhioState schedule, Louisiana State and Central Florida, will bring the total up to seven scheduled for the season.

The Buckeyes were 13-1 at the indoor Jesse Owens West Recreation Center last year, but then had trouble on outdoor courts on the road. This season, the team will travel south mid-March to gain outdoor experience earlier in the year, as the team did not have a chance to play in the south until May 10 at the NCAA Regionals in Knoxville, Tenn. This experience will prove useful in the later part of the season as Ohio State gears up for Big Ten play and the NCAA tournament, both of which will be held outdoors.

Nine of the 11 players from the 2001-02 squad return this season.

Three Buckeyes had solid seasons in their first year at Ohio State. Meaghan Colville, a sophomore transfer, led the group with a 14-9 singles record. Linsdsey Adams was 9-7 in singles, while Linsday Bryan was 7-9.

Jackie Leskovar may be new to the Buckeyes, but she has experience at the No. 1 and 2 spot at North Carolina State, which plays in the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. Also out of the ACC, Emily DeCamilla, a transfer from Maryland, has a good tennis foundation, is well coached and is a great addition to the program. Freshman Emily Howard has a great deal of potential coming from a solid high school background.

Sophomore transfer Emily DeCamilla recorded her first-career Big Ten victory as a Buckeye in the game-winning match at Penn State against Lindsay Dowing, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6(0).

DeCamilla struck first by prevailing in a first-set tiebreaker, but Downing answered back by controlling the second set. DeCamilla jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the final set and then held serve to go up 5-2 over Downing, but the Lady Lion freshman won the next four games to stay alive. DeCamilla regained her composure and broke Downing’s serve to send the match into a tiebreaker, in which she triumphed for the Buckeyes, winning, 7-0.