Rally for Ohio State falls short in Big Ten opener

COLUMBUS, Ohio Despite blizzard conditions in Columbus, the 31st-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (10-3, 0-1 Big Ten) played on, falling to No. 33 Indiana (11-3, 1-0 Big Ten), 4-3, Saturday, at the OSU Varsity Tennis Center in the opening match of Big Ten play for the Buckeyes.

The loss to Indiana drops Ohio State to 5-30 all-time against the Hoosiers and ends their eight-game homestand with a 6-2 record.

For the first time at home this season, Ohio State lost the doubles point, losing both No. 1 and No. 3 doubles and winning at the No. 2 spot. Their home record now stands at 22-2 in doubles play this season.

“The doubles point was huge,” Ohio State head coach Chuck Merzbacher said following the match. “It was so close, just a couple of points either way and it may have been a different outcome.”

Angela DiPastina and Christina Keesey had a tough time getting going in No. 1 doubles against Brianna Williams and Katya Zapadalova, dropping six of the first seven games. They then responded by rattling off three consecutive victories to bring the score to 6-4. The Scarlet and Gray continued to battle, but the Hoosiers proved too powerful, falling 8-5.

Julie Blackmore and Cami Hubbs claimed a win for Ohio State at the No. 2 spot, dropping Alba Berdala and Lindsey Stuckey, 8-2, to push their record to 14-4 together on the year

Control of the doubles point was decided in No. 3 doubles, where Paloma Escobedo and Caitlin O’Keefe took on Sigrid Fischer and Myriam Sopel. The Hoosiers started out hot, jumping to a 6-3 lead. Escobedo and O’Keefe battled back, however, and tied the match at 7-7. The Buckeyes took an 8-7 advantage, before the Hoosiers answered back with a win of their own to send the match to a tiebreaker.

Ohio State grabbed the early momentum in the tiebreaker with a 3-1 lead, but Indiana stormed back to ultimately claim the tiebreaker, the match, 9-8 (4), and the doubles point.

In singles play, Ohio State and Indiana split the six matches.

“I was inspired by the efforts in singles,” Merzbacher said. “We just fell short in a few matches. It was another great college tennis match here at home.”

O’Keefe fell at the No. 6 spot, 6-1, 6-1, to Brianna Williams to give the Hoosiers their second point. The loss is just the fifth of the season for O’Keefe, including just the third in dual match competition.

Despite being swept, 6-0, in the first set, DiPastina came firing back in the second set of No. 1 singles against Alba Berdala, tying the set at 4-4. She couldn’t keep the momentum rolling, however, as Berdala powered her way to a 6-0, 6-4 win to pick up the third Indiana point.

With the Hoosiers needing just one more point to clinch the match, it was up to Hubbs, Keesey, Blackmore and Escobedo to salvage a win for the Scarlet and Gray.

Keesey did her part in No. 4 singles, dropping Sigrid Fischer, 6-4, 6-3, to pick up the first Buckeye point of the day. The victory gives Keesey her third straight win since shifting to the No. 4 spot.

Hubbs picked up a win at the No. 5 spot, her seventh straight and 25th of the season , in beating Lindsey Stuckey, 6-3, 7-5. Hubbs now sits just two wins shy of the freshman record held by Sadhaf Pervez and just six wins short of the all-time single season record of 31, held by Kristy Dascoli.

With the lead now cut to 3-2, both Escobedo and Blackmore entered third sets.

Escobedo, who had dropped the first set to Zapadalova, 6-4, equalized the match with a 6-4 second set victory. Escobedo fell behind early in the third set, 2-0, before tying the match up at two games apiece. Zapadalova quickly reclaimed control of the match, winning four consecutive games and clinching the match for the Hoosiers, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

In No. 3 singles, Blackmore met up with Charlotte Martin, who had won eight consecutive matches entering the day. Blackmore took the first set, 6-4, while Martin claimed the second set, 6-2. The bounces favored Ohio State in the third set, as Blackmore prevailed, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.

Following a nine-day hiatus for exams, the Scarlet and Gray return to the court at the Fort Myers Collegiate Invitational March 17 in Fort Myers, Fla.

Tennis Match Results
Indiana vs Ohio State
Mar 08, 2008 at Columbus, Ohio

#33 Indiana 4, #31 Ohio State 3

Singles competition
1. Alba Berdala (IU) def. Angela DiPastina (OSU) 6-0, 6-4
2. Katya Zapadalova (IU) def. Paloma Escobedo (OSU) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
3. Julie Blackmore (OSU) def. Charlotte Martin (IU) 6-4, 2-6, 6-1
4. Christina Keesey (OSU) def. Sigrid Fischer (IU) 6-4, 6-3
5. Cami Hubbs (OSU) def. Lindsey Stuckey (IU) 6-3, 7-5
6. Brianna Williams (IU) def. Caitlin O’Keefe (OSU) 6-1, 6-1

 Doubles competition
1. Brianna Williams/Katya Zapadalova (IU) def. Angela DiPastina/Christina Keesey (OSU) 8-5
2. Julie Blackmore/Cami Hubbs (OSU) def. Alba Berdala/Lindsey Stuckey (IU) 8-2
3. Myriam Sopel/Sigrid Fischer (IU) def. Paloma Escobedo/Caitlin O’Keefe (OSU) 9-8 (7-4)

Match Notes:

Indiana 10-3; National ranking #33
Ohio State 10-2; National ranking #31
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3*); Singles (6,1,4,5,2*,3)

*Clinching Point