Buckeyes look to win seventh straight in final match of the homestand

COLUMBUS, Ohio With the majority of the non-conference schedule behind them, the No. 31 Ohio State women’s tennis team (10-2, 0-0 Big Ten) now turns its eyes to Big Ten competition with the conference opener against No. 33 Indiana (10-3, 0-0 Big Ten) Saturday at the OSU Varsity Tennis Center. The match signals the end of an eight-match homestand for the Buckeyes, one which has seen the Scarlet and Gray go undefeated in doubles play en route to a 6-1 record.

Indiana enters the match with a 10-3 record, with all three losses coming against Top 25 programs. The Hoosiers are led by senior Brianna Williams, who has a 21-4 overall record, including a 12-1 mark in dual matches.

The Scarlet and Gray have historically struggled against Indiana, going 5-29 all-time. Last season, the Hoosiers took the doubles point and won all but No. 6 singles on their way to a 6-1 victory in Bloomington. The last win in the series for Ohio State came in 2003, when the Buckeyes won 5-2 in Columbus.

The Big Ten opener with Indiana is the final game of an eight-match homestand for the Buckeyes. Following a nine-day hiatus for exams, the Scarlet and Gray will be back in action at the Fort Myers Collegiate Invitational March 17 in Fort Myers, Fla.

Ohio State then returns home and faces 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.

Junior Julie Blackmore was named the Big Ten Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Week Wednesday by the Big Ten Conference. The award is the first for the Buckeyes this season and first since Christina Keesey earned the honor last year.

Last week, Blackmore led the Buckeyes to a perfect 4-0 record with wins over No. 50 Louisville, Cleveland State, Cornell and Eastern Michigan. In addition to four singles wins on the week, Blackmore and doubles partner Cami Hubbs contributed four doubles wins, including 8-0 sweeps against both Cleveland State and Eastern Michigan.

Heralded as one of the best recruiting classes in Buckeye history, freshmen Cami Hubbs and Paloma Escobedo have lived up to their sizeable billing this season.

Hubbs, who leads the Buckeyes with 24 singles wins, is closing in on the freshman record of 27 wins held by current assistant coach Sadhaf Pervez. Additionally, Hubbs is now only seven wins shy of tying the all-time single season wins record of 31, held by Kristy Dascoli.

Escobedo leads the Big Ten in winning percentage from the No. 2 singles spot, posting an unblemished 7-0 mark. She has been outstanding in doubles also, posting a 10-2 record with partner Caitlin O’Keefe this season.

Ohio State has been perfect in doubles at home this season, posting an unblemished 21-0 mark in seven 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 12-4 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 14 wins, including a fall season win over the No. 1-ranked tandem from William and Mary. As a team, the Scarlet and Gray are 50-23 with a .685 winning percentage in paired play.

Ohio State is now ranked as the No. 31 team in the March 4 ITA Top 75 following an 10-2 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 and then moved to 45th in the Feb. 19 poll. Following four consecutive victories, the Buckeyes jumped to No. 31 in the March 4 poll.

Ohio State continued its strong play at home by sweeping a double-header with Cornell and Eastern Michigan March 2, defeating the Big Red, 5-2, and blanking the Eagles, 7-0.

The Buckeyes began the day against Cornell by sweeping doubles competition. Paloma Escobedo and Caitlin O’Keefe provided the clinching doubles win with an 8-5 win from the No. 3 spot.

In singles, Julie Blackmore keyed the Scarlet and Gray from the No. 3 spot, winning a decisive 6-0, 6-4 victory. Escobedo added a 6-0, 6-1 win in No. 2 singles, while Christina Keesey clinched the match with a 6-3, 7-6 (3) win from the No. 4 spot.

The nightcap with Eastern Michigan proved just as successful for Ohio State, where it once again took all three doubles matches.

Cami Hubbs helped lead the Buckeyes with a win from the No. 5 singles spot and a win at No. 2 doubles, while Angela DiPastina took a straight-set victory in No. 1 singles. O’Keefe took care of business at the No. 6 spot, winning 6-1, 6-4, while Blackmore clinched the match with a 6-2, 6-1, win in No. 3 singles.

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.

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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