April 4, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio State women's tennis team hosts conference rivals Wisconsin and 33rd-ranked Minnesota at The Ohio State University Varsity Outdoor Tennis Center this weekend. The Buckeyes (6-12, 1-4 Big Ten) and Badgers (10-7, 1-4 Big Ten) square off at 3 p.m. Friday before OSU takes on the Gophers (12-4, 2-3 Big Ten) at 11 a.m. Sunday.
As always, admission to regular season home matches is free.
Throughout the season, stay connected with the Buckeyes on Twitter @OhioState_WTEN or on Facebook at facebook.com/OhioState_WTEN.
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 Minnesota, Ohio State will head to the road to face Illinois April 13 and Northwestern April 15. The Buckeyes will celebrate Senior Day April 20 during the final home regular season match against Michigan State. The team ends the regular season against Michigan April 22 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Junior Gabby Steele and freshman Kelsey Dieters are tied for the team lead in singles victories (15). Dieters owns a four-match wins streak entering the weekend. Junior Fidan Manashirova follows with 14 wins, including a team-best 4-1 Big Ten record. She is 14-3 in conference decisions the last two seasons.
Manashirova and Steele also form the winningest Buckeye doubles tandem, as the junior duo holds a 15-7 record, including an 11-5 dual-match ledger. The team of Kara Cecil and Kelsey Haviland is 2-0 in Big Ten contests this season.
Ohio State's junior class of Cecil, Manashirova and Steele has combined to win 24 singles contests this spring, 47 percent of the team's 51 singles victories in dual matches. The trio has accounted for 153 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.
Senior Alaina Trgovich leads the Badgers with 10 singles wins in dual matches, two coming at the top spot. Wisconsin has featured three players at No. 1 singles this spring. Trgovich and Hannah Berner have held the top role in doubles all season and lead the squad with an 11-6 record.
The Buckeyes are 11-30 all-time against the Badgers. Ohio State has won the last six meetings, including a 4-3 comeback win in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big Ten Tournament. The Scarlet and Gray are 9-8 against Wisconsin under the direction of head coach Chuck Merzbacher.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Alexa Palen leads the Gophers with 12 singles victories this spring while playing in the top half of the lineup. Julia Courter has secured a team-best 4-1 Big Ten singles record. The doubles tandem of Natalia Pintusava and Magdalena Wiecha paces the team with eight wins. Minnesota has shifted its lineup multiple times this season and featured four singles players and five doubles duos at the No. 1 spot.
The Buckeyes are 16-24 all-time against the Gophers. Merzbacher has guided Ohio State to an 11-5 record against Minnesota, including eight-consecutive wins against his alma mater.
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 Wisconsin, Merzbacher has recorded 609 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 609 matches, he has collected 363 wins with a win percentage over 60 percent. Merzbacher has been at the helm for the Buckeyes in 413 matches, dating back to the 1996-97 season. With Ohio State, Merzbacher has achieved a .557 winning percentage on the way to a program-record 230 victories.
Shape of Things to Come
Four of Ohio State's six remaining 2012 opponents were ranked in the April 3 Intercollegiate Tennis Association polls, led by conference foes Northwestern and Michigan at 14th and 15th, respectively. Eight of the 12 Big Ten teams found a place in the rankings. Illinois is 19th and Minnesota is 33rd. Purdue is 34th, while Indiana comes in at No. 45 and Penn State is No. 47. Iowa rounds out the conference at No. 72.
New Courts Dedicated
• Dedication Video: Outdoor Varsity Tennis Courts
Ohio State's new tennis facility was officially dedicated in a ceremony Tuesday afternoon. The facility, The Ohio State University Outdoor Varsity Tennis Center, consists of 12 scarlet and gray painted tournament-style courts that are ideal for large spectator crowds. The tennis complex serves both the university and surrounding community for practice, competitions and youth camps.
Along with the courts, there is a new joint support facility shared with the field hockey complex that contains restrooms, storage and concessions for fans. The complex also includes a convenient new parking lot and better media accessibility, including a press area.
At the event, Gene Smith, Ohio State associate vice president/director of athletes, tennis head coaches Chuck Merzbacher and Ty Tucker and tennis student-athletes Kelsey Haviland and Steven Williams addressed the crowd, with Chris Schneider, associate athletics director for sport administration, serving as emcee. After the brief ceremony, three members of each squad hit a ceremonial `first serve'.
Click HERE for photos from the dedication.