COLUMBUS, Ohio Fresh off their best Big Ten regular season in seven years, the No. 38 Ohio State women’s tennis team (14-9, 7-3) will travel to Madison, Wis., for a quarterfinal match with No. 45 Indiana at the 2009 Big Ten Women’s Tennis Tournament at Nielsen Tennis Stadium. Follow the Buckeyes all weekend long at: http://www.uwbadgers.com/sport_news/wtns/bigten.aspx.
The winner of the Ohio State-Indiana quarterfinal match will move on to semifinals and take on the winner of the match between No. 1 Northwestern-No.8 Minnesota/No. 9 Penn State. For more information about the bracket, click the link above for the official bracket.
Indiana and Ohio State met two weekends ago on Senior Day in Columbus, where the Buckeyes swept the Hoosiers, 7-0, in one of the most impressive victories this season for Ohio State. The match was closer than the score relayed, however, as three singles matches went into a third set.
The Hoosiers are led in singles wins by junior Lindsey Stuckey, who holds a 19-15 record in 2008-09. Senior Sigrid Fischer is right behind with 18 singles wins while sophomore Charlotte Martin has 17. The Buckeyes’ win over the Hoosiers this season was just the sixth win all-time in the series for the Scarlet and Gray.
The fourth-seeded Buckeyes enter play Friday looking to break their recent dry spell in postseason play. The last postseason win for Ohio State came in 2004, a 4-2 win over Harvard in the NCAA Tournament. Their last Big Ten tournament wins came in the same year, beating Penn State, Illinois and Iowa before falling to Northwestern in the title match.
2009 marked the most Big Ten wins by an Ohio State team since 2002, when the Buckeyes went 9-1 and finished third in the conference. That season, Ohio State bowed out in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament to Michigan and then fell in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament to Alabama.
The 2009 regular season closed out with seven Buckeyes having double-digit singles win totals. Kirsten Flower led the team with 18 singles wins in 2008-09, while Angela DiPastina had a spring season high 14. Christina Keesey led the team with a .813 (13-3) winning percentage in the spring campaign.
Ohio State was outstanding in doubles after a mid-February mix-up. Before finding their groove, the Buckeyes were 12-12 (.500), but after the Virginia Tech match the Scarlet and Gray had a 33-11(.750) mark in paired play. Flower and Paloma Escobedo were especially dominant, leading the team with a 12-2 mark in the spring and winning nine of 10 matches entering the Big Ten tournament.
Depth in both the singles and doubles lineup has been a strength in 2009 for Ohio State, as the team is a combined 34-14 at No. 5 and No. 6 singles, while posting an 18-4 mark at No. 3 doubles. Blackmore, Keesey, DiPastina and Haviland have all played in the No. 5 and No. 6 singles spots this season, with DiPastina holding a 12-3 record in those positions. Escobedo and Flower play No. 3 doubles.
FINAL BIG TEN STANDINGS
1. Northwestern 10-0 1.000 21-1 .955
2. Michigan 9-1 .900 15-5 .750
3. Illinois 8-2 .800 17-6 .739
4. Ohio State 7-3 .700 14-9 .609
5. Indiana 6-4 .600 14-9 .609
6. Purdue 4-6 .400 8-12 .400
7. Wisconsin 3-7 .300 8-14 .364
Minnesota 3-7 .300 11-11 .500
9. Penn State 2-8 .200 5-17 .227
Iowa 2-8 .200 7-14 .333
11. Michigan State 1-9 .100 8-15 .348
WAY BACK WHEN
The 2009 spring season has had many memorable moments, with equal amounts of heart-raising wins and gut-checking losses. Here is a look at some of the more unforgettable matches from the regular season.
Jan. 31, vs. South Carolina The Buckeyes and Gamecocks entered the opening round of the ITA National Indoor Qualifier ranked as the No. 32 and No. 33 teams in the nation, respectively. The match lived up to the billing, with Ohio State losing a tightly contested doubles point but rallying in singles to take the match, 4-3. It was the bottom of the singles lineup that fueled the Buckeyes, getting wins from Cami Hubbs at No. 3, Julie Blackmore at No. 4, Kelsey Haviland at No. 5 and Angela DiPastina at No. 6.
Feb. 1 vs. Duke Ohio State and No. 9 Duke faced off the very next day with a trip to the ITA National Indoor Championships on the line. The Blue Devils prevailed, 4-2, but the Buckeyes did not go down quietly in their loss, getting wins from senior Julie Blackmore over 48th-ranked Amanda Granson and senior Angela DiPastina beating Jessi Robinson in three sets at No. 6. Duke has since risen to the top of the polls, coming in at No. 2 in the latest release, and is the only team to have beaten top-ranked Northwestern this season.
Feb. 22 vs. Oregon The Scarlet and Gray were in need of a good weekend after dropping four-consecutive matches entering play in Eugene, and the 46th-ranked Ducks were just the answer. After dropping Washington State a day earlier, the Buckeyes completed their West Coast sweep by downing Oregon, 5-2, picking up big wins in singles from Kirsten Flower, Christina Keesey and DiPastina.
Feb. 28 vs. Penn State A women’s tennis record crowd of 240 showed up at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center to see the Buckeyes open Big Ten play against Penn State. The team gave the crowd a good show, sweeping through doubles and closing out singles with five straight-set wins. The match also marked the 100th career home victory for Ohio State head coach Chuck Merzbacher.
March 23 vs. Utah Perhaps it was the venue and not the actual match that made this spring break showdown so memorable, as Ohio State and Utah took to the courts at the Darling Tennis Center in Las Vegas, Nev., for the final non-conference match of the season. Despite punishing desert winds that neared 40 miles per hour, the Buckeyes had no problem dispatching the Utes, taking an easy doubles point win and picking up five wins in singles. Keesey won her seventh-consecutive singles match while Blackmore clinched the win at No. 5 singles.
April 10 vs. Illinois The Buckeyes had staked themselves to a 2-0 lead against the 36th-ranked Fighting Illini after a close doubles point win and a quick win at No. 4 singles by Keesey. After Hubbs fell in straight sets at No. 3, four singles matches went into a third set. The Buckeyes could not pull a win in any of them, losing the match, 5-2. The decision proved pivotal in the final Big Ten standings, as Illinois edged the Buckeyes to grab the No. 3 seed and avoided a potential showdown with No. 1 Northwestern in the semifinals.
April 12 vs. Indiana Buckeye seniors Angela DiPastina, Julie Voss and Julie Blackmore went out in style in Columbus on Senior Day, completing a 7-0 sweep over Indiana on Easter morning. Easy doubles wins powered the Buckeyes to an early 1-0 lead, while straight set wins from Flower, Blackmore and Keesey put the match away.
April 19 vs. Wisconsin The best may have been saved for last this season, as Ohio State went to Madison, Wis., to face Wisconsin and try to lock up the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Despite a doubles point win, the Buckeyes found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-2 match deficit late. Keesey tied the match at 3-all with a win at No. 3 singles, leaving the match to Hubbs at No. 4. The Buckeye sophomore rallied from a 4-2 third set hole and forced a tiebreaker with Jessica Seyferth that would decide the match. Seyferth again grabbed a 4-2 advantage but saw it quickly evaporate as Hubbs stormed off five points in a row to take the tiebreaker, the set and the match.
OHIO STATE WHEN…
The Buckeyes are:
10-3 when Kirsten Flower wins in singles
8-2 when Paloma Escobedo wins in singles
11-2 when Christina Keesey wins in singles
8-1 when Cami Hubbs wins in singles
12-1 when Julie Blackmore wins in singles
8-6 when Angela DiPastina wins in singles
6-0 when Kelsey Haviland wins in singles
9-0 when they sweep the doubles point
3-3 when they win two of the doubles matches
1-5 when they win one doubles match
0-3 when they are swept in doubles
10-3 when they win No. 1 singles
10-2 when they win No. 2 singles
7-1 when they win No. 3 singles
11-2 when they win No. 4 singles
11-2 when they win No. 5 singles
14-5 when they win No. 6 singles
11-2 when they win No. 1 doubles
11-3 when they win No. 2 doubles
12-6 when they win No. 3 doubles
2-1 in matches that end 7-0
4-1 in matches that end 6-1
5-3 in matches that end 5-2
3-3 in matches that end 4-3
1-7 when they play a higher ranked team
8-1 when they play a lower ranked team
A SALUTE TO THE SENIORS
This will be the last Big Ten tournament for a trio of Buckeye seniors. Julie Blackmore, Julie Voss and Angela DiPastina have combined to win 64 dual matches, 187 singles matches and 175 doubles matches during their career as Buckeyes. The three were also part of the historic 2008 campaign that saw the Buckeyes win a record 19 regular-season matches and return to the NCAA tournament for the first time in four seasons.
DiPastina’s 73 career singles victories places her seventh all-time for a Buckeye while Blackmore’s 71 wins puts her right behind in ninth place. Additionally, Blackmore’s 86 doubles wins are good for eighth all-time, while DiPastina’s 73 wins in paired play are good for 13th all-time. Blackmore holds the Ohio State single season record for doubles wins in a season, with 31 in 2008. Voss led the Buckeyes in singles wins as a sophomore with 23 and has 43 career singles victories.
Each senior has also excelled in the classroom, helping lead the Buckeyes to ITA All-Academic Team Awards in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Voss is both a three-time ITA Scholar Athlete and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete, and a 2008 Academic All-Big Ten honoree. Blackmore holds two ITA Scholar-Athlete distinctions, three Ohio State Scholar-Athlete honors and two Academic All-Big Ten designations. DiPastina is a three-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete, two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and a 2008 ITA Scholar-Athlete.
BRINGIN’ EM OUT
The Buckeyes drew out fans in record numbers this season, ranking fifth in the NCAA in overall average attendance with 132 per match through the matches of April 5. The season high for Ohio State came in the Big Ten opener against Penn State Feb. 28, when 240 came out to the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center to see the Buckeyes take a 6-1 win over the Nittany Lions.
Overall Average Attendance
Division I Women
1. Texas A&M: 424
2. Michigan: 175
3. Georgia: 159
4. Alabama: 133
5. Ohio State: 132
If the Buckeyes do not win the Big Ten tournament and receive the automatic bid, they will seek an at-large bid into the 2009 NCAA tournament. Opening round action will take place at campus sites, while the championship matches will take place in College Station, Texas, on the campus of Texas A&M.
The 2009 NCAA Division I women’s tennis selection announcements will air at approximately 5:20 p.m. April 28, on ESPNews. ESPNews is located on DirecTV channel 207/DishNetwork channel 142. In addition, the ESPNews audio signal is available on the ESPNews channel on XM Radio and SIRIUS Radio.