COLUMBUS, Ohio In a match that could serve as a preview for a potential Big Ten tournament showdown in just two weeks, the 43rd-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (12-8, 5-2 Big Ten) fell to No. 36 Illinois, (15-5, 6-1 Big Ten) 5-2, at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center. The match, which lasted nearly four and a half hours, saw the Fighting Illini claim four singles matches in the third set.

The doubles point was tightly contested at all three positions. The first Buckeye doubles win came at No. 3, where Paloma Escobedo and Kirsten Flower fought out of an early 3-1 deficit to sweep past the Fighting Illini pair of Amy Allin and Annie McCarthy, 8-5.

After Chelcie Abajian and Leigh Finnegan ran out to a 2-0 lead at No. 1, Christina Keesey and Angela DiPastina locked down, running off four games in a row to take a 4-2 lead. The Buckeye duo kept the pressure on, moving the match to 7-6, where DiPastina spiked home the winning point to take the match and a doubles point win, 8-6.

The final doubles match was won by Illinois, with Megan Fudge and Marisa Lambropolous taking an 8-6 win over Julie Blackmore and Cami Hubbs at No. 2.

Keesey got Ohio State started in singles, winning 6-2, 6-0 over Lambropoulos at No. 4. The win was Keesey’s 11th this spring, running her record in dual matches to 11-2.

Hubbs had a hard time getting it going at No. 3 singles against Chelcie Abajian, taking a 6-2 first set loss. The Buckeye sophomore rallied in the second set to take a 3-0 frame lead, before Abajian came back to take the match, 6-2, 6-4, and give Illinois its first point of the day.

Flower found a tough fight at No. 1 with the 108th-ranked Fudge. After a relatively easy 6-2 first set win from Flower, the Fighting Illini junior powered her way to a 6-4 second set victory. The third set also belonged to Fudge, who ran away with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 win and tied the match score at 2-all.

DiPastina fought her way back from a 6-4 first set loss at No. 5 to deal Allin a 6-4 second frame defeat. The match looked all but over in the third set, as the Illinois freshman held a 5-1 advantage. DiPastina, however, did not back down and fought her way back, winning four consecutive games and tying the match at 5-all. After splitting the next two games, the pair entered a tiebreaker that would decide the match. Allin held a one to two point advantage throughout the tiebreaker and eventually won the game, set and match, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5). Allin’s win put Illinois up 3-2 on the match, a deficit that Ohio State would be unable to overcome.

Escobedo took a 6-4 first set loss against Leigh Finnegan at No. 2, and was on the losing end of a 5-3 score late in the second frame before making a furious charge and winning four consecutive games to take the second set, 7-5. The third set mirrored the second, as Finnegan saw her 4-1 lead shrink to 4-3. This time, Escobedo just did not have enough left in the tank, and Finnegan took the match by a score of 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Finnegan’s win gave Illinois the clinching point, going up 4-2.

Blackmore, who was the final match of the day, turned a 0-2 first set deficit into a 6-2 win in the opening frame with six consecutive wins over Kristina Minor at No. 6. The second set was far more contentious, as each player traded points, tying at 6-6. Tied at 8-all in the second set tiebreaker, Minor broke it open and took the second set, 7-6 (10-8). Minor went up 4-1 in the third set and from there coasted in, taking the match, 2-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-3.

The Buckeyes return to the court Sunday for the final home match of the season, an 11 a.m. engagement with No. 38 Indiana. The match is scheduled to be played outside at the Stickney tennis Center, but will be moved indoors to the Varsity Tennis Center in the event of inclement weather.

Tennis Match Results
Illinois vs Ohio State
Apr 10, 2009 at Columbus, Ohio

#36 Illinois 5, #43 Ohio State 2

 Singles competition
1. #108 Megan Fudge (ILL) def. Kirsten Flower (OSU) 2-6, 6-4, 6-0
2. Leigh Finnegan (ILL) def. Paloma Escobedo (OSU) 6-4, 5-7, 6-3
3. Chelcie Abajian (ILL) def. Cami Hubbs (OSU) 6-2, 6-4
4. Christina Keesey (OSU) def. Marisa Lambropoulos (ILL) 6-2, 6-0
5. Amy Allin (ILL) def. Angela DiPastina (OSU) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5)
6. Kristina Minor (ILL) def. Julie Blackmore (OSU) 2-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-3

 Doubles competition
1. Angela DiPastina/Christina Keesey (OSU) def. Chelcie Abajian/Leigh Finnegan (ILL) 8-6
2. Megan Fudge/Marisa Lambropoulos (ILL) def. Cami Hubbs/Julie Blackmore (OSU) 8-6
3. Kirsten Flower/Paloma Escobedo (OSU) def. Annie McCarthy/Amy Allin (ILL) 8-5

Match Notes:
Illinois 15-5, (6-1 Big Ten); National ranking #36
Ohio State 12-8 (5-2 Big Ten); National ranking #43
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,3,1,5,2,6)
T-4:23  A-155