April 24, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 62nd-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team (No. 9 seed) is set to face 50th-ranked Penn State (No. 8 seed) at 10 a.m. Thursday in the first round of the 2012 Big Ten Women’s Tennis Tournament, hosted by the Buckeyes at the OSU Varsity Outdoor Tennis Courts. The winner will face top-seeded Northwestern at 10 a.m. Friday.
Admission is FREE throughout the tournament.
Throughout the season, stay connected with the Buckeyes on Twitter @OhioState_WTEN or on Facebook at facebook.com/OhioStateWomensTennis.
The 2012 Big Ten Women’s Tennis Tournament
Tournament play begins Thursday with first-round matchups, including Ohio State taking on Penn State at 10 a.m. The quarterfinals will be Friday, with semifinals Saturday and the championship match Sunday. The tournament champion will earn the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA championship field.
Big Ten Network will air the championship match on tape delay on Wednesday, May 9 at 6 p.m. ET.
A complete schedule, including links for live stats for all matches, can be accessed from the tournament central website: http://go.osu.edu/2012WTENBTT.
Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament
Ohio State is 9-15 in the Big Ten tournament under the direction of head coach Chuck Merzbacher. The Buckeyes have faced every conference opponent in the tournament with Merzbacher at the helm aside from Nebraska, which is in its first season as a member of the Big Ten.
The hosting Buckeyes have reached at least the quarterfinals the last five seasons, including semifinal runs in 2009 and 2011. Last season the fourth-seeded Scarlet and Gray rallied from a 3-1 deficit to down Wisconsin before falling to Michigan in the semifinals in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Scouting Penn State
Ohio State is 25-13 all-time against Penn State, including a 1-4 record in the Big Ten tournament. The teams last met in the tourney in 2008 as PSU advanced with a 4-1 win. The Buckeyes defeated the Nittany Lions, 4-3, in the opening round of the 2004 tournament en route to the championship match against Northwestern.
Earlier this season, Penn State notched a 4-3 victory over the Buckeyes Feb. 7 at home in State College, Pa., to end OSU’s six-match winning streak in the series. The Nittany Lions are led by junior Petra Januskova at the top of the singles lineup. The Ottawa, Ontario, native, ranked 76th nationally, has been in each edition of the ITA polls. Januskova finished with a 16-5 regular-season singles record this spring.
The Scarlet and Gray have not lost back-to-back meetings with Penn State since the 2005 season.
This weekend will mark the final competition for senior Kelsey Haviland at the Big Ten tournament. The Dayton, Ohio, native has racked up 62 career singles victories, including six against nationally-ranked opponents, coming into the tourney while playing 85 percent of dual matches in the top half of the lineup since her sophomore year.
She also has 45 career doubles wins and has been a part of 59 team wins as a Buckeye, including the squad's 4-1 victory over DePaul in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in 2010.
Haviland helped lead the Buckeyes to tie for third in the Big Ten last season while playing at No. 1 singles, where she downed a trio of ranked foes to earn second team All-Big Ten honors. Ohio State has won its opening-round match of the Big Ten tournament each season Haviland has been a member of the team.
Junior Gabby Steele leads the team with 20 singles victories, followed by freshman Kelsey Dieters (19) and junior Fidan Manashirova (18). Manashirova's 8-3 Big Ten record sets the pace for the team. Sophomore Tiffany Dittmer and Haviland have both reach the double-digit singles win mark, as Dittmer has claimed 15 and Haviland 11 this season.
Manashirova and Steele also form the winningest Buckeye doubles tandem, as the junior duo holds a 16-10 record, including a 12-8 dual-match ledger.
Dieters has been a vital component for the Buckeyes down the stretch, winning 11 of her last 14 completed singles matches. The freshman compiled a 7-3 conference singles record playing mainly at No. 4.
Manashirova has won seven of her last 10 contests at No. 3 singles, including four wins in straight sets. Classmate Steele has not lost since April 6 against Wisconsin, reeling off five-consecutive singles victories.
Ohio State's junior class of Kara Cecil, Manashirova and Steele has combined to win 35 singles contests this spring, 49 percent of the team's 71 singles victories in dual matches. The trio has accounted for 164 career wins. In doubles, the juniors have played a part in 74 percent of the Buckeyes' wins this spring with 23 of 31 decisions.
Odds and Ends
Ohio State is 8-2 against unranked or lower-ranked opponents and 7-2 when taking the doubles point in 2012. The Buckeyes are 7-4 at home this season, including a 3-0 record at the new OSU Varsity Outdoor Courts.
Merzbacher's Winning Ways
Coming into the Big Ten tournament, Merzbacher has recorded 615 matches in his career as a collegiate head coach, spanning back to his first season with Northern Illinois in the 1989-90 campaign. In those 615 matches, he has collected 366 wins with a win percentage of nearly 60 percent (.595). Merzbacher has been at the helm for the Buckeyes in 419 matches, dating back to the 1996-97 season. With Ohio State, Merzbacher has achieved a .556 winning percentage on the way to a program-record 233 victories.
Big Ten release follows
Big Ten Reveals Women's Tennis Tournament Bracket
Northwestern earns top seed following 10-1 conference season
The seedings and matchups for the 2012 Big Ten Women's Tennis Tournament were announced on Sunday following the conclusion of the conference's regular-season schedule. Northwestern receives the tournament's No. 1 seed by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker with Michigan. The Wildcats compiled a 10-1 conference record and 16-7 overall mark en route to the program's 14th Big Ten crown.
Michigan earns the No. 2 seed in the tournament after closing the regular season at 10-1 in Big Ten play and 17-6 overall. Illinois (17-6 overall, 9-2 Big Ten) enters the event as the No. 3 seed after earning the head-to-head tiebreaker over fourth-seeded Nebraska (23-3, 9-2). The top four seeds in the tournament receive first-round byes and begin competition on Friday.
Purdue (14-6, 6-5) holds the No. 5 seed and will battle No. 12 Michigan State (8-14, 0-11) in the first round, with the winner advancing to face the fourth-seeded Huskers. Indiana, Ohio State and Penn finished at 4-7 in conference play, creating a three-way tie for the seventh seed. By virtue of a 2-0 record against the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions, the Hoosiers claim the No. 7 seed in the tournament, while Penn State earns the eighth seed based on head-to-head results against Ohio State. The Hoosiers (15-10, 4-7) will take on No. 10 Wisconsin (12-11, 3-8) in the first round, with the second-seeded Wolverines awaiting the winner in the quarterfinals. The Nittany Lions (12-10, 4-7) will face off against No. 9 Ohio State (9-15, 4-7), and the winner will meet the top-seeded Wildcats in Round 2.