Buckeyes off to best start since 2002-03 season

COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 45 Ohio State women’s tennis team (8-2, 0-0 Big Ten) hosts Cornell (5-1, 0-0 Ivy) at 10 a.m. and Eastern Michigan (4-5, 0-0 MAC) at 4 p.m. Sunday at the OSU Varsity Tennis Center. With the 8-2 start, the Buckeyes are now off to their best team start since the 2002-03 season.

The meeting between Cornell and Ohio State will be the first between the schools. The Buckeyes last hosted an Ivy League school in 2004, when they defeated Yale, 5-2, in Columbus. Currently, the Big Red are in the midst of a five match winning streak and travel to Pittsburgh Saturday before visiting the OSU Varsity Tennis Center.

Eastern Michigan and Ohio State have met 12 times before, but not since 1995, when the Scarlet and Gray blanked the Eagles, 9-0, in Columbus. Of those 12 meetings, Ohio State has won nine. Eastern Michigan returns to the Midwest following a three-game California slate against UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton and No. 72 Loyola Marymount.

The matches with Cornell and Eastern Michigan begin to wrap up an eight game homestand for Ohio State that started Feb. 16 and will continue until March 8. These matches Sunday will act as the final tune-up for the opening of the Big Ten season and a visit from No. 28 Indiana on March 8.

Following the Ft. Myers Collegiate Invite March 17, Ohio State will return home and face off against Minnesota March 22 and Iowa March 23. The Buckeyes then have matches with Boston March 29 and Michigan State March 30 before leaving Columbus and traveling to No. 1 Northwestern April 5 and Wisconsin April 6.

Ohio State has been perfect in doubles at home this season, posting an unblemished 15-0 mark in five matches at the Varsity Tennis Center. Leading the way are Julie Blackmore and Cami Hubbs from the No. 2 spot and Caitlin O’Keefe and Paloma Escobedo in No. 3 doubles. Each tandem is 10-4 on the season, and each has recorded eight wins in the last ten games.

Angela DiPastina and Christina Keesey have had similar success, posting a team-high 12 wins, including a fall season win over the No. 1-ranked tandem from William and Mary. As a team, the Scarlet and Gray are 44-23 with a .657 winning percentage in paired play.

With 22 wins this season, Cami Hubbs continues to close in on the freshman record for wins, set at 27, and inches ever closer to the all-time single season wins mark of 31.

After a fall season in which she finished with a team-high 12 wins, Hubbs has gone 10-3 in the spring season. Hubbs’ 14 wins in tournaments this year is already a record for a freshman, passing the freshman mark of 13 set by Jordan. Her winning percentage of .814 thus far this season is also third best all-time for a freshman.

Ohio State is now ranked as the No. 45 team in the Feb. 26 ITA Top 75 following an 8-2 start and four victories over ranked programs.

The Buckeyes began the season as the No. 52 team before moving up to No. 50 in the Jan. 29 rankings with two victories on the opening weekend of competition. After a brief stay at No. 48, Ohio State rose to 47th in the Feb. 12 rankings.

The Ohio State women’s tennis squad lost just one point between two matches Wednesday, as it defeated No. 50 Louisville 6-1 and blanked Cleveland State 7-0 in the OSU Varsity Tennis Center. Additionally, the Buckeyes ran their home unbeaten streak in doubles play to 15 games.

Louisville kept it close in singles, but the Scarlet and Gray eventually overpowered the Cardinals to win five of six matches. Angela DiPastina rallied from a first set loss to claim the win at the top singles spot, while Paloma Escobedo posted a straight set win in No. 2 singles. Julie Blackmore, Cami Hubbs and Caitlin O’Keefe all followed suit with wins at the No. 4, 5 and 6 spots.

Christina Keesey fought her way into a super tiebreaker at the No. 3 spot, but was defeated to provide Louisville its sole point on the day.

It was smooth sailing in the nightcap against Cleveland State, with each Buckeye player earning straight set wins in singles. Julie Voss started Ohio State off with a 6-1, 6-1, victory at the No. 6 spot and Julie Blackmore followed with a 6-0, 6-0, white-washing in her season debut at the No. 3 spot.

Caitlin O’Keefe won 6-2, 6-1, at the No. 5 spot, Christina Keesey took a 6-1, 6-1, decision in No. 2 singles, Cami Hubbs won 6-1, 6-3 at the No. 4 spot and Angela DiPastina completed the sweep with a 6-1, 7-6 (3) win at the top spot.

The Ohio State women’s tennis team defeated No. 46 Oregon Feb. 24 , 5-2, at the OSU Varsity Tennis Center. The match marked the first time the Buckeyes had hosted a Pac-10 Conference team in Columbus.
Caitlin O’Keefe got the Buckeyes going with a win at the No. 6 spot, while Cami Hubbs added her team-high 20th win of the season from the No. 5 spot.
Paloma Escobedo won in No. 2 singles to clinch the match for Ohio State and Julie Blackmore powered her way to a victory at the No. 5 spot.

Angela DiPastina and Christina Keesey each lost in three sets, with DiPastina falling in No. 1 singles and Keesey losing at the No. 3 spot.
The Scarlet and Gray swept doubles for the third-consecutive match, putting them at 9-0 on the homestand in doubles competition. Ohio State lost just four games over the three doubles matches vs. the Ducks.

In the first match inside the newly opened Varsity Tennis Center, No. 47 Ohio State was beaten by No. 31 South Florida, 4-3. The contest was highlighted by a three and a half hour clinching match between Julie Blackmore and Liz Cruz, a battle Cruz won, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Paloma Escobedo shut down Ally Mueller, 6-2, 6-2, in No. 2 singles and Caitlin O’Keefe provided the other singles victory for the Buckeyes with a straight set, 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 71 Natalia Guevera.

Angela DiPastina lost in No. 1 singles, Christina Keesey fell in No. 3 singles and Cami Hubbs was beaten at the No. 5 spot. The Buckeyes did win the doubles point for the first time in four matches, sweeping the Bulls.

The nightcap produced better results for the Scarlet and Gray, as they beat Toledo, 6-1. The Buckeyes again swept the doubles point and cruised in singles action.

Angela DiPastina recorded her first career win at the No. 1 spot with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win. Escobedo, Keesey, Hubbs and O’Keefe all won their matches, with the sole loss on the day coming from Julie Voss at the No. 6 spot following a battle with Jessica Azoulay.

The Ohio State University Varsity Tennis Center is the new indoor venue for the men’s and women’s tennis teams and opened in November. Located at 880 West Henderson Road in northwest Columbus, the 57,000 square foot center has six courts covered with a Plexipave surface.

The indoor tennis center accommodates approximately 400 spectator seats, plus standing room. In addition to 156 bleacher seats, the facility features 64 cabaret-style seats on court level at the north end and 96 individual seats in the south end. Additionally, 66 theatre-style seats will be available.  

The site also houses the coaches’ offices, as well as locker rooms and team and recruiting rooms.

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