COLUMBUS, Ohio Despite desert winds exceeding 35 miles per hour at the Darling Tennis Center in Las Vegas, Nev., the 35th-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (9-6, 2-0 Big Ten) was a 6-1 winner against 53rd-ranked Utah (6-6, 0-0 Mountain West) in the Buckeyes’ final non-conference dual match of the 2009 season.

“It was a great win today against a solid Utah squad,” Chuck Merzbacher, Ohio State head coach said following the match. “The conditions were rough and this was a closer match than the final score showed. We battled hard and I’m proud of how we overcame the loss of Paloma (Escobedo) in singles.”

Escobedo, who has played No. 2 singles this season, was scratched from the singles lineup after suffering an ankle injury in a practice Friday. She did play in doubles, however, combining with Kirsten Flower at No. 3 to take an 8-1 decision over Leigh Walsh and Karine Bourdages.

The Buckeyes kept the winning going in doubles, with Julie Blackmore and Cami Hubbs taking down Lisa Johnson and Anastasia Putilina at No. 2, 8-3, to pick up their sixth win of the spring together.

Angela DiPastina and Christina Keesey finished out the doubles point in their first match as a nationally ranked tandem, defeating Erin Monson and Andrea Maughan at No. 1, 8-5.

The sweep of doubles was seventh-consecutive doubles point win for Ohio State. As a team, the Buckeyes have won 18 of their last 21 doubles matches, including sweeps in four of the last seven contests.

After doubles, the Buckeyes quickly jumped to a 2-0 match advantage when Bourdages retired from her match at No. 6 singles with freshman Kelsey Haviland in the first set, tied at 3-3.

Keesey, playing at her highest singles position this season, defeated Johnson at No. 3 in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3. The win was Keesey’s seventh in row in singles, and gave Ohio State a 3-0 match lead.

The Utes got on the board in a battle of seniors at No. 4, where Walsh defeated DiPastina, 6-4, 6-3. The remaining three matches being played went into a third set.

Blackmore provided the match clinching win from the No. 5 position over Lexi Provancha, winning the first set 6-4, dropping the second 4-6, before claiming the third, 6-3. The win was Blackmore’s 70th career singles victory, moving her past Leann Grimes (1975-78) for 8th all-time at Ohio State.

Playing at No. 2 for the second time this season, Hubbs defeated Monson in a tightly contested three set battle, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Flower closed out the match for Ohio State with a furious third set comeback against Putilina at No. 1. After falling in the first set 3-6, Flower rallied for a 6-0 second set win, before finding herself in a 5-3 third set deficit. The Buckeye junior responded, winning four consecutive games to take the match, 3-6, 6-0, 7-5.

Ohio State leaves Las Vegas Wednesday to travel to Iowa City to reopen Big Ten play against Iowa Friday at 4 p.m. EST. The Buckeyes will also travel to Minneapolis for a Sunday match with Minnesota at 12 p.m. EST.

Follow the team’s progress through the ten day trip on Kelsey Haviland’s blog on the tennis page of

Tennis Match Results
Utah vs Ohio State
Mar 23, 2009 at Las Vegas, Nev.

#35 Ohio State 6, #53 Utah 1

 Singles competition
1. Kirsten Flower (OSU) def. Anastasia Putilina (UTAH) 3-6, 6-0, 7-5
2. Cami Hubbs (OSU) def. Erin Monson (UTAH) 6-2, 4-6, 7-5
3. Christina Keesey (OSU) def. Lisa Johnson (UTAH) 6-2, 6-3
4. Leigh Walsh (UTAH) def. Angela DiPastina (OSU) 6-4, 6-3
5. Julie Blackmore (OSU) def. Lexi Provancha (UTAH) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
6. Kelsey Haviland (OSU) def. Karine Bourdages (UTAH) 3-3, retired

 Doubles competition
1. #80 Christina Keesey/Angela DiPastina (OSU) def. Erin Monson/Andrea Maughan (UTAH) 8-5
2. Cami Hubbs/Julie Blackmore (OSU) def. Lisa Johnson/Anastasia Putilina (UTAH) 8-3
3. Kirsten Flower/Paloma Escobedo (OSU) def. Leigh Walsh/Karine Bourdages (UTAH) 8-1

Match Notes:
Utah 6-6 (0-0 Mt. West); National ranking #53
Ohio State 9-6 (2-0 Big Ten); National ranking #35
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (6,3,4,5,2,1)