Senior Caitlin O’Keefe will compete in her final home match as a Buckeye

COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 31 Ohio State women’s tennis team (17-4, 4-2 Big Ten) will host Purdue (4-12, 2-4 Big Ten) at 11a.m. Saturday, before taking on No. 58 Illinois (8-8, 4-2 Big Ten) in the home finale at 11 a.m. Sunday. Because of the poor weather forecast for Columbus this weekend, the matches will be played inside the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center.

The match with Illinois will be the final home match for team captain and senior Caitlin O’Keefe, who in her four years with Ohio State holds a 64-60 record in singles play. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, O’Keefe has seen action at every spot in the lineup during her career with the Buckeyes.

As a freshman, O’Keefe led the team in with five Big Ten singles wins en route to earning the Coach’s Award. Her performance from the No. 1 and No. 2 spots during her sophomore campaign earned her the team Most Valuable Player award as well as Most Improved award.

In her junior season, O’Keefe and doubles partner Sonia Ruzimovsky led the squad with 20 doubles wins and O’Keefe was the recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. She also earned her third Scholar Athlete distinction from Ohio State and the ITA.

Her senior season has been her most successful both personally and for the team. O’Keefe now stands at 19-7 in both singles and doubles competition this season and has led the Buckeyes to their highest rank since 2003.

Purdue enters play Saturday with two wins in its last four matches. The Boilermakers are led by senior Stephanie Wooten, who has a 9-7 record on the season. Ohio State holds a narrow 21-19 lead in the all-time series between the schools, with the Buckeyes downing Purdue in their last meeting, a 5-2 win in West Lafayette last season.

No. 58 Illinois, who is led by sophomore Megan Fudge and her team-high 16 singles wins, comes to Columbus following a Saturday match at Indiana. Illinois leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 23-12, but the Buckeyes have taken the last two matches between the schools.

With their 17th win of the season last Sunday against Wisconsin, Ohio State secured the best start in team history through 21 matches, improving upon the 16-5 mark set in 2002. This season, the Scarlet and Gray have defeated seven ranked teams and have a 10-2 record inside the OSU Varsity Tennis Center.

Cami Hubbs, a native of Omaha, Neb., has 31 singles victories this season, which ties her with Kristy Dascoli (2001) for the most wins by a Buckeye in a single season. Hubbs tied the record against Wisconsin last Sunday with a 6-2, 6-1, victory from the No. 5 spot. Her .861 winning percentage is the highest for a Buckeye since Ann Wilson went 20-1 in 1975.

Hubbs joined Julie Blackmore as the only Buckeyes to win Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors this season when she earned the award for the week of March 17-23

The Scarlet and Gray hit their stride in the month of March, posting an 8-1 team record and finishing the month in third place in the Big Ten. March began with wins over Cornell and Eastern Michigan, before Indiana dealt the Buckeyes their sole loss of the month in a tightly contested 4-3 decision in Columbus.

Ohio State then traveled to Fort Myers, Fla., and swept both Drake and Coastal Carolina over spring break. The Buckeyes returned to Columbus to knock off Minnesota, Iowa, Boston University and Michigan State.

Leading the way were Cami Hubbs (8-0) and Julie Blackmore (9-0), who were both undefeated, and also Christina Keesey, who went 8-1 on the month. The Buckeyes went 24-2 in doubles, including a 9-0 mark from the No. 2 doubles spot.

Ohio State has been nearly perfect in doubles at the OSU Varsity Tennis Center this season, posting a 34-2 mark in 12 matches in the new building. Leading the way are Angela DiPastina and Christina Keesey, who have a 21-9 record together from the top position.

Cami Hubbs and Julie Blackmore have been equally outstanding, posting a 20-5 record and winning 12 consecutive matches together at home. Paloma Escobedo and Caitlin O’Keefe round out the Ohio State doubles unit with a 18-6 record from the No. 3 spot this year.

Following the home finale with Illinois, the regular season wraps up with road trips to Michigan April 18 and Penn State April 20.

Ohio State will then travel to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Big Ten Championship April 24-27, and then await a selection decision for the NCAA tournament, which begins May 9.

Ohio State traveled to Evanston, Ill., for a match with No. 1-ranked Northwestern last Saturday and then headed north to Madison, Wis., to take on Wisconsin in a Sunday match.

The Buckeyes were swept, 7-0, by the top-ranked Wildcats. Ohio State lost all three doubles matches for just the second time this season, and Cami Hubbs had her consecutive match win streak snapped at 12. Julie Voss was the only Buckeyes to reach a third set, but she fell in a tiebreaker at the No. 6 spot.

The Scarlet and Gray fared better in Wisconsin, where they won, 5-2. Ohio State was keyed by a doubles sweep, their 15th of the year. In singles, Paloma Escobedo won at No. 2 while Christina Keesey and Caitlin O’Keefe picked up wins as well. The win was the fourth of the year in Big Ten play for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes concluded non-conference play at home against Boston University March 29 before facing off with Big Ten foe Michigan State March 30.

Ohio State blanked the Terriers by claiming the doubles point and cruising in singles to a 7-0 victory. Christina Keesey paced the Buckeyes, picking up a 6-2, 6-4 win from the No. 4 position. Paloma Escobedo clinched the match with a 6-3, 6-1 win from the No. 2 spot.

The Scarlet and Gray took on the Spartans Sunday in Big Ten play. Ohio State overpowered Michigan State in the doubles point behind an 8-2 win from the No. 1 position. The Buckeyes kept the momentum going into singles play, where they used victories from Caitlin O’Keefe and Cami Hubbs to win the match, 6-1.

Ohio State downed No. 49 Minnesota, 6-1, and No. 43 Iowa, 4-3, at the OSU Varsity Tennis Center March 22-23 to pick up their first two wins in Big Ten action.

Despite a power outage that delayed play by nearly six hours, Ohio State still handled the Golden Gophers, winning the doubles point and clinching the match behind strong singles efforts from Caitlin O’Keefe at the No. 6 spot and Paloma Escobedo at the No. 1 spot. Cami Hubbs tied the program record for victories by a freshman with her 27th win on the season in No. 5 singles.

The Scarlet and Gray again brought their best against the Hawkeyes for the Easter Sunday match. After taking the doubles point for the 10th time in 11 home matches, Keesey, Julie Blackmore and Cami Hubbs nailed down victories from the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 spots to get the win. Hubbs claimed the freshman win record with the win, leaving her just three wins shy of the all-time single season mark of 31.

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