Feb. 23, 2005

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Columbus, Ohio – After concluding a season-opening seven-match homestand, the Ohio State women’s tennis team (3-4, 0-0 Big Ten) takes to the road to face No. 19 Tennessee at 5 p.m. Friday at the Goodfriend Tennis Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Buckeyes then return home to face No. 7 Kentucky at 2 p.m. and Akron at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Jesse Owens West Tennis Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Scouting Tennessee
The No. 19-ranked Lady Volunteers are 5-2 with a five-match winning streak. Coach Mike Patrick’s team is led in singles by No. 70 Sabita Maharaj. Maharaj teams with Melissa Schaub to form the club’s top doubles duo.

Tennessee is 7-2 all-time against Ohio State, including a 4-3 win in Columbus last season. The Buckeyes last beat the Lady Vols March 20, 1986, in Columbus, by a score of 5-4.

Scouting Kentucky
The No. 7 Wildcats (9-3, 0-0 SEC) face Michigan Saturday. Head coach Mark Guilbeau’s ninth Wildcat squad is headed by a trio of ranked singles competitors: No. 7 Aibika Kalsarieva, No. 53 Sarah Foster and No. 43 Kim Coventry. Foster and Kalsarieva form the nation’s No. 6 doubles tandem.

Kentucky is 3-0 this season against Big Ten foes and beat Ohio State twice last season. The Wildcats topped the Buckeyes 4-3 in a regular season matchup in Lexington, Ky., and then eliminated the Buckeyes from the NCAA Championship with a 4-0 victory in the second round in Cambridge, Mass.

Scouting Akron
Akron is 4-5 on the season, prior to matches with Walsh Tuesday and St. Bonaventure Wednesday.

Head coach Tony Fox’s team is led at No. 1 singles by Courtney Brenkus. Brenkus and Columbus-native Mindy Price makeup the No. 1 doubles squad.

Ohio State is 4-0 all-time against the Zips. The Buckeyes last faced the Zips Jan. 20, 2002, and downed them 7-0.

Last Time Out
Ohio State snapped a two-match losing streak by defeating Auburn, 5-2, last Saturday at the Jesse Owens West Tennis Center in Columbus, Ohio.

In doubles action, Lindsey Adams (Sr., Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island) and Sonia Ruzimovsky (Brooklyn, N.Y./Brooklyn Tech) began their match at the No. 1 position by beating Auburn’s Isabel Rosenbrock and Petra Bercik 8-0. At the No. 2 spot, Buckeyes Emily DeCamilla (Sr., Sacramento, Calif./Maryland) and Meredith Vincent (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Va. Tech) jumped out to a 4-0 lead before beating Jelena Jovic and Tori Almogno, 8-3. Ohio State’s Caitlin O’Keefe (Fr., Troy, Mich./Troy) and Kristin Messmer (So., Lutherville, Md./McDonogh) completed the doubles sweep with an 8-6 win over Ashley Cowart and Sarah Suitor at No. 3.

In singles, Anna Volberg (Soph., Toledo, Ohio/St. Ursula) dispatched Bercik, 6-0, 6-3, at the No. 2 position, Sonia Ruzimovsky (Soph., Brooklyn, N.Y./Brooklyn Tech) gritted out a 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (2) victory at No. 4 over Almagno and Messmer clinched the match with a straight-set victory over Cowart, 6-2, 6-4, at No. 5. O’Keefe beat Nancy Peaden, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 6 to provide the final margin.

Dominating The Buckeye State
A Chuck Merzbacher-coached Buckeye squad has never lost to a team from the state of Ohio. Since Merzbacher’s arrival in 1996-97, his teams are17-0 against in-state competition, including a pair of 7-0 victories this season, against Cleveland State and Youngstown State.

On The Road Again
Ohio State hits the road for the first time this season after posting a 3-4 record at home thus far this season. The Buckeyes were 7-11 away from home last season, including three wins in the Big Ten championship and one in the NCAA championship first round.

Early Leaders
After seven spring season matches, sophomore Sonia Ruzimovsky is 6-0. She continues to lead the team in singles victories with a career-high 16.

In doubles, Lindsey Adams is Ohio State’s individual leader with 10 wins. Kristin Messmer and Ruzimovsky are the top Buckeye duo with an overall record of 5-2.

Winning Trend
Ohio State’s best production this season has come from the bottom half of the singles lineup. While the Nos. 1-3 positions are 8-13 through seven dual matches, the Buckeyes playing at Nos. 4-6 have compiled a record of 14-7.

Doubles A Marker For Success
Thus far this season Ohio State is 3-0 when winning the doubles point and 0-4 when failing to do so.

Merzbacher Reaches 250 Wins
Ohio State’s win over Cleveland State marked a milestone for head coach Chuck Merzbacher.

The 7-0 victory was Merzbacher’s 250th in his now 16-plus years as a college head coach.

Since beginning his career at 1989-90 at Northern Illinois, Merzbacher is 252-157.

Home Cooking
With 14 home matches this season, Ohio State will hope to continue its recent dominance in Columbus, where the team has won at a .750 percentage during the last two seasons and is 2-2 this season.

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.

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.

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 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 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.

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 See 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.

Next Up
The Buckeyes return to action at noon March 5 when they face Missouri in Columbia, Mo. The following day at 9 a.m. Ohio State faces Louisville in Columbia, then travel to St. Louis, Mo., to take on St. Louis University at 6 p.m.