COLUMBUS, Ohio The 38th-ranked Ohio State (3-5, 0-0 Big Ten) women’s tennis team will travel to Eugene, Ore., for a weekend double-header with Pac-10 foes Washington State (3-5, 0-0 Pac-10) and Oregon (5-2, 0-0 Pac-10). The Buckeyes will take on No. 59 Washington State at 3 p.m. EST Saturday and play No. 46 Oregon at 2 p.m. EST Sunday.
A WINDOW ON WAZZU
After a 3-0 start to the 2008-09 season, Washington State has seen recent disappointment, falling in five-consecutive matches. However, all the losses came against teams ranked higher than the Cougars in the ITA Rankings.
Freshman Elizabeth Fournier has been an early leader for Washington State, putting together a 13-4 record in 2008-09 while assuming the duties of the No. 1 singles spot. Senior Aleksandra Cekic is 10-7 on the year in singles and plays in the No. 2 singles spot.
Ohio State has met Washington State only once before, a match in 2006 at the Newport Beach Tournament in Newport Beach, Calif., where the Scarlet and Gray came out ahead, 4-2. Then-freshmen Julie Blackmore and Angela DiPastina each won their singles matches.
Oregon launched itself into the ITA Top 50 after picking up wins over No. 39 Colorado and No. 49 New Mexico earlier this month. The Ducks also collected early season wins over Idaho, Portland and Houston but lost to No. 14 Arkansas and No. 44 Pepperdine.
A 4-2 record from Carmen Seremeta at No. 1 singles this spring has been an early key for Oregon, while Pavlina Smatova is 4-1 this spring while playing in No. 2 and No. 3 singles.
The Buckeyes saw the Ducks last season in Columbus, where Ohio State was a 5-2 winner. Julie Blackmore, Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs all came out with wins in singles, while also helping sweep the doubles point.
SHE’S ON FIRE
Angela DiPastina has been excellent in the spring season for Ohio State, putting together an undefeated 8-0 record in singles while also going 6-2 in doubles on the season. Of her eight singles wins, she has entered a third set just once, giving her a 16-1 mark in all sets played this season.
Her 66 career singles victories leave her just two wins shy of cracking the Top 10 in career wins all-time at Ohio State.
O! SO CLOSE!
The Buckeyes have been hit with a case of tough luck over the last several matches. After falling to No. 9 Duke, 4-2, the Buckeyes traveled to face SEC foe Kentucky. The match lasted more than six hours, seeing Ohio State take the doubles point before the 20th-ranked Wildcats stormed back in singles to reclaim a 3-2 match lead.
Angela DiPastina won her match from the No. 6 position, but Kelsey Haviland came up just short in her bid for a win from the No. 5 spot. The Buckeyes pushed five singles contests into three sets, but ultimatly fell, 4-3.
A return to Columbus came the following weekend, where No. 29 Virginia came calling. This time it was the Buckeyes who entered singles down 1-0 after dropping the doubles point. Kirsten Flower and Paloma Escobedo took care of business from the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, but saw the Cavaliers pull out victories in No. 3 or No. 4 singles.
DiPastina again won her match, this time from the No. 5 spot, but junior Christina Keesey couldn’t pull out the deciding match from the No. 6 position, falling in three sets to give Virginia a 4-3 victory.
The last match of the weekend came against No. 52 Virginia Tech, who came in hot after giving No. 4-ranked Baylor a scare earlier in the season. Again Ohio State dropped the doubles point but came out firing in singles, picking up wins from Flower, DiPastina and Cami Hubbs.
Haviland fell at the No. 6 spot, Blackmore was downed in No. 4 singles and Escobedo lost in the clinching match at the No. 2 position, handing Ohio State its third-consecutive loss by the score of 4-3.
TOP OF THE CLASS
The Buckeyes’ 2010 recruiting class of Fidan Manashirov, Kara Cecil and Gabby Steele has been ranked as the 12th-best in the nation, according to the Tennis Recruiting Network. The Big Ten as a whole enjoyed recruiting success, as the Buckeyes are one of four teams ranked in the Top 15.
Steele hails from Cincinnati and Summit Country Day High School. A four-time OHSAA state tournament participant, Steele was the Ohio State Division II champion as a junior in 2007, defeating current Buckeye freshman Kelsey Haviland in the championship match.
Cecil, a native of Plant City, Fla., is ranked as the No. 57 player in the class of 2009 by tennisrecruiting.net. In 2008, she reached the quarterfinals of the USTA national Open Girls 18’s National Open in Naples and Tallahassee and was ranked among the Top 10 in the state of Florida.
Manashirov comes to Ohio State after a distinguished prep career that saw her ranked as the No. 29 player in the class of 2009 by tennisrecruiting.net. The Elk Grove, Calif., native was ranked in the Northern California Girls 14’s, Girls 16’s and Girls 18’s and defeated eight blue chip prospects over the course of her career. The Gorwin Tennis Academy product has been equally stellar in doubles play, reaching the finals of multiple International Tennis Federation events.
ON THE HORIZON
Ohio State will return back to Columbus Feb. 28 for the Big Ten home opener against Penn State at 5 p.m.
March begins with a home date against the Rice Owls March 3, followed by a trip to Tampa March 8 for a match against South Florida. A home contest with Purdue will take place March 13, followed by a trip to Las Vegas March 23 for a showdown with Utah.
The spring dual match season will take the Buckeyes all over the United States, including destinations in at least nine different states and nearly 7000 miles of travel.
Date Location Miles Traveled
1/31 Durham, N.C. 354
2/4 Lexington, Ky. 157
2/21 Eugene, Ore. 2,060
3/8 Tampa, Fla. 831
3/23 Las Vegas, Nev. 1,726
3/27 Iowa City, Iowa 462
3/29 Minneapolis, Minn. 245
4/18 Evanston, Ill. 284
4/19 Madison, Wisc. 112
4/23 Madison, Wisc. 395
Several Buckeyes are ranked among the top of the Midwest Region in singles and doubles. Junior Kirsten Flower, who joins the Buckeyes this season after two seasons at Georgia Tech, is ranked 14th in the Midwest region in singles. Christina Keesey and Cami Hubbs are the fourth-ranked doubles team in the region, in part because of their strong run to the semifinals at the Midwest Regional Qualifier.