Ohio State Looks to Maintain Momentum
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The 61st-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team travels to Illinois for a pair of conference matches this weekend. The Buckeyes (8-12, 3-4 Big Ten) face No. 23 Illinois (13-6, 5-2 Big Ten) at 5 p.m. ET Friday in Champaign, Ill., before taking on No. 11 Northwestern (13-7, 6-1 Big Ten) at noon ET Sunday in Evanston, Ill.
Throughout the season, stay connected with the Buckeyes on Twitter @OhioState_WTEN or on Facebook at facebook.com/OhioStateWomensTennis.
A link for live stats is available on the women's tennis schedule page on OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
On Deck for Ohio State
Following the match against Northwestern, the Buckeyes will celebrate Senior Day April 20 during the final home regular season match against Michigan State, honoring Kelsey Haviland following the match. The team concludes the regular season against Michigan April 22 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Freshman Kelsey Dieters leads the team in singles victories with 17, followed by juniors Gabby Steele (16) and Fidan Manashirova (15), who shares the team lead with Dieters with five Big Ten wins. Manashirova is a combined 22-11 in conference singles and doubles contests the last two seasons.
Manashirova and Steele also form the winningest Buckeye doubles tandem, as the junior duo holds a 15-9 record, including an 11-7 dual-match ledger. The team of Kara Cecil and Kelsey Haviland has picked up a pair of wins in Big Ten contests this season.
Ohio State's junior class of Cecil, Manashirova and Steele has combined to win 28 singles contests this spring, 47 percent of the team's 59 singles victories in dual matches. The trio has accounted for 157 career wins. In doubles, the juniors have played a part in 67 percent of the Buckeyes' wins in 2011-12 with 30 of 45 decisions.
Buckeyes Sweep Weekend
Ohio State posted back-to-back 4-3 victories last weekend in the first matches completed at the new outdoor facility in Columbus.
Last Friday, the Buckeyes rallied to earn four singles wins against Wisconsin. After the Badgers won the doubles point, the teams split the first four matches off the court, with Kara Cecil and Fidan Manashirova posting victories for the Buckeyes to keep Ohio State within one. On court six, Tiffany Dittmer tied the match at 3-all with a come-from-behind three-set victory. Kelsey Dieters clinched the team win, also rallying for a three-set win. She defeated Sarah Loebel, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, including fending off match point in the second set.
Sunday against No. 33-ranked Minnesota, Ohio State dropped the doubles point, but claimed the win with four singles victories from Cecil, Dittmer, Dieters and Gabby Steele. Cecil won in straight sets on court two, with Dittmer, Dieters and Steele all claiming three-set victories. Dieters rallied from a first-set loss for the match-clinching win.
Illinois Fighting Ilini
Sophomore Allison Falkin, ranked 119th nationally in singles, has helped lead the Illini to seven wins in the team’s last eight contests and a 5-2 Big Ten record. Illinois’ conference losses have been to Northwestern and Michigan, both tied for first in the Big Ten.
The Illini feature the 57th-ranked doubles team of Maria Lambropoulos and Melissa Kopinski, as well.
Ohio State is 13-27 all-time against Illinois. Last year, the Buckeyes outlasted the Illini in a 4-3 decision at home.
Junior Kate Turvy leads the Wildcats into battle against the Buckeyes. She is ranked 13th nationally while leading the team in singles wins (24) and dual-match victories (14) and is tied with Veronica Corning with a 6-1 Big Ten record. Classmate Brittany Wowchuk joins Turvy in the rankings at No. 62. The doubles tandem of Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton ranks 19th nationally and paces the team with a 15-9 record.
The Wildcats currently hold a three-way tie with Michigan and Nebraska for first place in the conference at 6-1. Northwestern holds a 32-5 advantage in contests against Ohio State. The Scarlet and Gray’s last win came in a 4-3 triumph at home in 2003.
Big Ten Tournament Coming to Columbus
Ohio State will host the 2012 Big Ten Women's Tennis Tournament April 25-29 at The Ohio State University Varsity Outdoor Tennis Center. All 12 conference schools will participate in the event, with one round held each day. Admission to all rounds is FREE. For more information on the tournament, including a schedule and live stats links during play, visit: http://go.osu.edu/2012WTENBTT.
Merzbacher's Winning Ways
Coming into the match against Illinois, Merzbacher has recorded 611 matches in his career as a collegiate head coach, spanning back to his first campaign with Northern Illinois in the 1989-90 season. In those 611 matches, he has collected 365 wins with a win percentage over 60 percent. Merzbacher has been at the helm for the Buckeyes in 415 matches, dating back to the 1996-97 season. With Ohio State, Merzbacher has achieved a .559 winning percentage on the way to a program-record 232 victories.