May 9, 2001
COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the third-consecutive year Ohio State will participate in the NCAA Championships. The Buckeyes travel to Athens, Ga. for the NCAA Regionals. They face off against No. 32 Mississippi State (8-12) Friday at 10 a.m. at the University of Georgia’s Dan Margill Tennis Complex. In the other first-round match Georgia (19-4) will square off against Coastal Carolina (20-1) at 2 p.m. The winners will meet in the second round held Saturday at 4 p.m. This is OSU’s fourth time in the tournament. The Buckeyes received an at-large bid after compiling a 17-10 record. OSU was 7-3 in Big Ten play and advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Championships before falling to eventual champion Northwestern. The NCAA field is composed of 64 teams with 31 teams receiving an automatic bid.
Here We Go Again
In addition to the Buckeyes qualifying for the NCAA Championships, OSU advanced a singles player and doubles team to the national competition. Kristy Dacoli (Sr., Bradenton, Fla.) will make her fourth trip to the NCAAs in singles competition. The duo of Dascoli and Monica Rincon (Jr., Lapeer, Mich.) qualified for doubles competition as well. This is the third-consecutive year the Buckeyes will send the team, a singles player and doubles tandem to the NCAA Championships.
Seedings were handed out in groups this year with the Buckeyes receiving a 29-32 seed. Mississippi State garnered a 33-48 seed, Georgia a 1-4 seed and Coastal Carolina a 49-64 seed.
OSU in the Tourney
The Buckeyes are making their third-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and fourth overall. OSU has a 1-3 record in championship play. Last season, also in Athens, the Buckeyes posted their first-ever NCAA Tournament win over Miami (Fla.) before falling to eventual champion Georgia in the second round. In 1999, OSU was defeated by Louisiana State in the first round. In 1996 the Buckeyes faced Minnesota in their first-ever NCAA Tournament match. The Buckeyes lost, 6-0.
Buckeyes vs. Bulldogs
This is the first meeting between Ohio State and MSU. This season OSU played two teams from the Southeastern Conference. March 10, the Buckeyes fell to No. 3 Tennessee, 5-2. No. 24 Kentucky defeated OSU, 4-3, April 11.
The National Rankings
The Buckeyes are ranked 34th in the most recent rankings released by the ITA (May 9). Mississippi State is No. 32, Georgia is No. 4 and Coastal Carolina is not ranked.
Leading the Buckeyes
Kristy Dascoli is one of the best players ever to play in the Big Ten. This season she was honored as the Big Ten Player of the Year for the second-consecutive year. She is the only player in the Big Ten to win the award outright in back-to-back seasons. She has played No. 1 singles her entire career and was the Big Ten Athlete of Month for March. She is OSU’s all-time leader in wins and is ranked 27th in the nation. April 22, in Evanston, Ill., she beat Northwestern’s Colleen Cheng to notch her 100th career win, becoming the first female Buckeye ever to do so.
Monica Rincon was named the ITA Midwest Region Player to Watch at the end of last year when she set the program record for most singles wins in a season with 30. She is ranked 98th in the nation and is 23-11. She teams up with Dascoli to form one of the most feared doubles teams in the Midwest. The two are 26-14 overall and were a blistering 9-1 in Big Ten play.
Scouting Mississippi State
MSU’s 8-12 record is very misleading. The Bulldogs play in the SEC, arguably the best conference in the nation. The conference boasts three teams ranked in the Top 5 and 11 of the 12 squads received bids to the NCAAs. MSU’s record outside of the conference was a respectable 4-3.
As of late the Bulldogs have been playing extremely well, winning three of their last five matches. During that span the Bulldogs knocked off No. 26 Louisiana State, No. 40 Arkansas and Middle Tennessee. The two losses came against No. 3 Tennessee and No. 5 Floridia.
OSU and MSU have two common opponents this season. Both teams played Kentucky and Tennessee. Both squads dropped 5-2 decisions to Tennessee. OSU lost a heart-wrenching battle to Kentucky, 4-3, while MSU bested the Wildcats by the same score.
The Bulldogs are led by Amelie Detriviere. The senior has an overall record of 10-16, but continually plays the nation’s top players at No. 1 singles. She is ranked No. 84 in the nation.
Without a doubt the Georgia Bulldogs are one of the best teams in the nation. They are the defending NCAA champions and are a favorite to win the title again this year. Georgia received an automatic bid after winning the SEC Championship.
UGa has six players ranked in the Top 100. They do not have a single player with more than 10 losses on the year. Leading the team is No. 18 Aarthi Venkatesan and No. 25 Mariel Verban. Venkatesan has won 109 career matches and is 11-7 overall this year. Verban, who has shared time at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, is 13-3 on the year. Anne Nguyen is 30-6 overall and is No. 30 in the nation. She has played anywhere from No. 2 to No. 5 singles and has compiled a 17-1 record at No. 3. The bottom of UGa’s roster is as equally talented as the top. Agata Cioroch is No. 62 in the nation and has a perfect 21-0 record. Over half of her wins have come at No. 5 singles where she is 12-0.
Scouting Coastal Carolina
The Chanticleers claimed triple crown honors in the Big South Conference this year. Emma Kidd was named Big South Player of the Year and Medina Bajrambasic claimed Big South Rookie of the Year honors. Jody Davis was named Big South Coach of the Year. Kidd and Bajrambasic were the two driving forces that led Coastal Carolina to an automatic bid for winning the Big South Tournament. Kidd, a senior, was 20-1 at No. 1 singles and is 90-11 for her career. She is a two-time recepient of conference player of the year honors. Bajrambasic was a force at No. 2 singles, going 19-1 this season. She is 28-2 for her career. The Chanticleers are a balanced team as three other players have only one loss on the year.
Recapping Last Time Out
The Buckeyes hosted the Big Ten Championships April 26-29. April 27, in the quarterfinals, No. 4 seed OSU beat No. 5 seed Iowa 4-2 to advance to the semifinals. The Buckeyes dropped the doubles point to the Hawkeyes, but rallied to win four of the singles matches to advance. Posting victories for OSU were Dascoli, Rincon, Sadhaf Pervez (So., Warren, N.J.) and Larua Maloney (Sr., Barrington, Ill.).
April 28 OSU faced off against No. 1 seed and two-time defending champion Northwestern. Just six days earlier OSU fell to the Wildcats, 5-2, in Evanston, Ill. The Buckeyes were primed for an upset, but it was not meant to be as NU advanced to the finals with a 4-0 win. The Wildcats went on to win the championship the next day over No. 2 seed Illinois.
At the Helm
Coach Chuck Merzbacher (Minnesota, ’87), in his fifth season, has enjoyed much success since becoming the head man at OSU. He has compiled a 71-56 record, and has taken the Buckeyes from pretenders to contenders on the Big Ten and national stage. In Merzbacher’s first year, 1996-97, the team finished ninth in the Big Ten, but in only his fourth season the squad earned the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and finished third.
Kristy Dascoli was recognized by the Big Ten on two different occasions this year. For the second-consecutive year Dascoli was named Player of the Year in the Big Ten. She led OSU with a 28-12 record and was a staunch 9-1 in the conference. She alsowas named Big Ten Athlete of the Month for March. During the month she was 5-1 at No. 1 singles and 3-3 when she partnered with Rincon at No. 1 doubles.
All Alone at 100
Reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Athlete of the Month for March Kristy Dascoli picked up wins against Illinois (April 21) and Northwestern (April 22) to become the first OSU tennis player to reach the century mark. Her historic 100th victory was in dominating fashion as she controlled the entire match and dropped NU’s Colleen Cheng 6-4, 6-0.
Dascoli in the Big Ten
Over her four-year career Kristy Dascoli was nearly unstoppable in the Big Ten. She played at No. 1 singles her entire career and amassed an impressive 35-4 Big Ten regular season record. As a freshman she was 8-2 in the conference and followed that up with a 9-1 showing her sophomore year. As a junior Dascoli went 9-0 and this year she was 9-1.
OSU’s All-Time Leader
Kristy Dascoli became OSU’s all-time record holder for singles wins when she recorded her 82nd career victory this fall when she defeated Notre Dame’s Becky Varnum in the ITA Midwest Regional Nov. 5. Dascoli, who now owns a career mark of 101-46, broke the old mark of 81 wins, held by Maria Olazagatsti (1977-79).
Rincon Rolling Along
Monica Rincon has been a consistent presence for OSU this year. After setting a program-record for wins last year with 30 the junior has quietly put together another strong campaign. She is 23-11 this year and picked up her 75th career win in the Big Ten Championship when she dropped Iowa’s Deni Alexandrova, 6-1, 6-4.
In just two short years Sadhaf Pervez has 50 career wins. She turned in a stellar freshman season last year, going 27-14. Her 27 wins were the fifth most in school history. This season Pervez has developed into a team leader and has totaled 23 wins to 15 losses.
Freshmen Coming Through
Erica Fisk (Fr., Indianapolis, Ind.) and Lindsay Williams (Fr., Beverly Hills, Mich.) are almost finished with their first year of collegiate tennis. Both have proved irreplacable in the Buckeye lineup. Fisk has had a stronghold at No. 4 singles since the beginning of the season. She led the team in wins for the majority of the season, but right now is third with 22. Williams took over at No. 6 singles against UNLV (March 22) and has provided OSU with some big points. She went 5-3 in the Big Ten while posting a 14-9 overall record.
The tandem of Sadhaf Pervez and Laura Maloney has been a consistent force for OSU at No. 2 doubles this spring. The duo has posted a team-best 18-8 dual match record and a 9-1 mark in the Big Ten. Two of those wins were recorded at the No. 1 spot.
Four Buckeyes have reached the 20-win plateau this season. Dascoli leads the team in wins with 28. Pervez and Rincon follow with 23 while Fisk is at 22.
A Milestone for Coach
Coach Merzbacher collected his 200th career win April 4 when OSU defeated Miami (Ohio). Seventy-one of his 204 wins have come at OSU. His first 50 wins were at Northern Illinois, where he coached for three years. He then garnered 83 victories in four years at Kansas. He has 71 wins under his belt as a Buckeye and nearly half of those wins (35) have come in less than a year and a half. He compiled 18 last year and 17 this year.
What a Recruiter
A player’s success is measured by how many tallies there are in the win column. Ever since Merzbacher was hired five years ago the wins have been piling up. Four of the Top 10 season singles winners are on the squad this year and all of them were recruited by Merzbacher. The players, their records and years are as follows.
1. Monica Rincon 30-11 2000 2. Kristy Dascoli 29-11 2000 4. Kristy Dascoli 28-12 2001 5. Sadhaf Pervez 27-14 2000 7. Michelle Matko 26-11 2000 10. Kristy Dascoli 25-10 1998
Big Ten in the Big Time
Once again this season, the competition in the Big Ten was fierce, as seven conference teams, including Ohio State, ended the regular season ranked by the ITA. Northwestern has the highest ranking at No. 9, followed by Illinois (31), Ohio State (33), Indiana (44), Penn State (46), Iowa (48) and Purdue (65). Only Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin are not ranked. In addition to OSU five other Big Ten teams made the tournament: Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Penn State.
The loss to Indiana (April 13) was OSU’s first regular-season Big Ten loss since last year when Iowa defeated OSU in Iowa City. Prior to the 13th the Buckeyes had won 13 Big Ten matches in a row.
Holding Their Own
The Buckeyes finished 7-3 in conference play to finish tied for third with Indiana. In singles competition OSU was a combined 37-23 in Big Ten play and 150-100 overall. The Buckeyes combined doubles record in the Big Ten was 20-10 and they were 71-56 overall.
All in a Week’s Work
The Buckeyes have only one loss on Sunday, but have picked up more wins on Saturday than any other day. A daily record breakdown follows.
Sunday 5-1 Monday 0-0 Tuesday 0-0 Wednesday 1-1 Thursday 1-1 Friday 3-3 Saturday 7-4
In the Win Column
In 27 matches, OSU has squared off against 19 teams ranked nationally. The Buckeyes hold a 9-10 record against ranked teams. They defeated No. 8 UCLA (5-2), No. 36 Iowa (6-1 and 4-2), No. 43 Minnesota (7-0), No 43 Penn State (5-2), No. 62 Maryland (7-0), No. 64 Marquette (6-1), No. 75 Wisconsin (5-2), and No. 75 UNLV (4-3). OSU’s losses came to perennial powers No. 3 Duke, No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 7 Pepperdine, No. 11 Northwestern (twice), No. 14 Tennessee, No. 24 Kentucky. The Buckeyes also lost to No. 34 Illinois, No. 40 Oklahoma State and No. 41 Indiana.