Ohio State (15-10, 7-3 Big Ten) takes on Wildcats in Evanston, Ill., in rematch of February thriller

COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 37 Ohio State women’s tennis team is bound for the 2009 NCAA Tournament, taking on No. 26 Kentucky May 8 at 11 a.m. EST on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. The winner of the match will move on to the Round of 32 and take on the winner of No. 1 Northwestern vs. No. 72 Miami (Ohio) May 10. Northwestern is one of 16 host schools for the first and second rounds, with the winner from each campus site advancing to the Round of 16 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas.

The Buckeyes and UK Wildcats were two of 33 teams to receive an at-large berth into the tournament. Northwestern was the Big Ten’s tournament winner and received the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA tourney, while the RedHawks were the automatic qualifier from the Mid-American Conference.

“It should be a great first round match,” Chuck Merzbacher, Ohio State head coach, said following the selection. “We played Kentucky close earlier this year in Lexington and it will be great to have another crack at them. We will be playing on a familiar court but we know they’ll be tough to beat.”

The Buckeyes and UK Wildcats no doubt remember their early February match in Lexington, a six-hour marathon that saw five singles matches go to a third set before Kentucky pulled out the narrow 4-3 win. Ohio State will also be in familiar surroundings in Evanston, having just played there two weekends ago when they took on Northwestern in the final weekend of the regular season.

This marks the second consecutive season Ohio State has made the NCAA tournament. Last year the team broke a three-year tournament drought when it was selected to take on Auburn in the opening round in Gainesville, Fla. The team has made eight NCAA trips under Merzbacher, including six-consecutive from 1999-04.