Buckeyes aim to tie and break program record for most wins in a season this weekend

COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 33 Ohio State women’s tennis team (18-5, 5-3 Big Ten) will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., for a match with No. 23 Michigan at 4 p.m. Friday before meeting Penn State at 11 a.m. Sunday in State College, Pa., in the regular-season finale. The Buckeyes need just one more win to tie the program record of 19 wins in a season.

Michigan enters play Friday with a 14-4 record on the season. After beginning the campaign with a 2-4 mark, the Wolverines have rattled off 12 wins in a row and are assured of at least a No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Maize and Blue are led by junior Chisako Sugiyama, who is ranked No. 49 nationally, and freshman Denise Muresan, who each have 13-match singles win streaks.

Ohio State and Michigan have met on the court 45 times, with the Wolverines coming out the victor in 32 of those matches. The last win for the Buckeyes came in 2003, when the Scarlet and Gray won, 4-3, in Columbus.

Penn State wraps up the 2008 regular season with a Friday match against Indiana and then the Sunday match with the Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions are led by Lauren McCarthy, who has a 5-2 singles record in Big Ten play this season.

Ohio State is the leader of the all-time series between the two teams, holding a 21-16 advantage, including wins in the last two matches.

With 18 wins, Ohio State now sits just one win shy of the program record of 19 wins in a season, set in 2002. The Scarlet and Gray have defeated seven ranked teams on the campaign and have an 11-3 record inside the OSU Varsity Tennis Center.

Cami Hubbs, a native of Omaha, Neb., has 33 singles victories this season, which is a record for the most wins by a Buckeye in a single season. Hubbs tied the record against Wisconsin with a 6-2, 6-1 victory and broke the mark against Purdue with a 6-0, 6-0 win from the No. 5 spot. Her .846 winning percentage is the highest for a Buckeye since Ann Wilson went 20-1 in 1975.

Hubbs joined Julie Blackmore as 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 contests with Michigan and Penn State will be the last regular season matches for team captain and senior Caitlin O’Keefe, who in her four years with Ohio State holds a 65-61 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. She is currently tied for 11th on the Ohio State career singles wins list.

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 20-8 in both singles and doubles competition this season and has led the Buckeyes to their highest rank since 2003.

Already assured of at least a No. 5 seed in the Big Ten tournament, Ohio State will 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. The announcement for selection into the NCAA tournament will air April 29 between 2 and 2:30 p.m. on ESPNews.

The Buckeyes last NCAA tournament appearance came in 2004, when they were ousted by Kentucky in the second round.

Ohio State wrapped up the home schedule last weekend at the OSU Varsity Tennis Center with a Saturday match against Purdue and the home finale Sunday against Illinois.

Cami Hubbs grabbed the program record for singles wins with her 32nd of the season, while Christina Keesey, Angela DiPastina and Julie Blackmore helped fuel a Buckeye come-from-behind victory against Purdue.

Illinois spoiled the final home match for Ohio State, taking the doubles point after a tightly contested match at the No. 1 spot. The Fighting Illini rode that momentum through to singles, taking four of six matches and giving the Buckeyes their third home loss of the season.

Ohio State traveled to Evanston, Ill., for a match with No. 1-ranked Northwestern April 5 and then headed north to Madison, Wis., to take on Wisconsin on April 6.

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.

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