The 35th-ranked Ohio State women’s tennis team fell to 30th-ranked South Carolina Friday in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships at the Ambler Tennis Center in Durham, N.C. The Buckeyes conclude the 2014 campaign with 19 wins, one win shy of the program-record 20 wins set by the 2010 NCAA tournament squad.
This season, Ohio State clinched a third-place B1G finish en route to earning an at-large bid for the 11th NCAA appearance in program history and the first since 2010. Freshman Sandy Niehaus collected a team-high 31 wins, while B1G Freshman of the Year Gabriella De Santis earned a team-best 27 doubles victories. The pair teamed up as the winningest Buckeye tandem with 19 overall wins, while Ferny Angeles Paz and Miho Kowase posted a team-best doubles 15 wins in the dual season. Seniors Noelle Malley and Kelsey Becker cap their careers with 52 career team wins with the Scarlet and Gray.
The Gamecocks collected wins on courts one and three to claim the doubles point vs. the Buckeyes. At No. 1 doubles, the No. 62-ranked Buckeye tandem of Malley and Grainne O’Neill fell to 26th-ranked Elixane Lechemia and Dominika Kanakova, 8-3. De Santis and Niehaus rallied to earn their 14th-consecutive victory of the spring, defeating 51st-ranked Meghan Blevins and Katerina Popova to knot the doubles score at one match each. With their second win against a ranked opponent, the duo of De Santis and Niehaus finish the spring with a 15-1 record in dual matches.
On court three, Kowase and Angeles Paz battled back and forth with Caroline Dailey and Ximenia Siles Luna before dropping falling in the match tiebreaker, 7-4, to give the Gamecocks a 1-0 advantage heading into singles play. The Buckeye freshman tandem finished the season with 15 wins.
In singles play, Niehaus notched a 6-4, 6-3, win vs. Brigit Folland at No. 3 singles to lock the score at 1-all. The Second Team All-Big Ten selection finished the season with 32 overall wins, ranking second all-time for a Buckeye freshman and for a single season overall.
First Team All-Big Ten honoree Kowase was defeated by No.107 Popova, 6-1, 6-3, at No. 2 singles, while O’Neill fell to Siles Luna 6-4 in both sets on court six to push the Gamecocks to a 3-1 lead vs. the Buckeyes. B1G Freshman of the Year and 85th-ranked De Santis dropped a 6-4, 6-4 decision to No. 73 Lechemia on court one to clinch the first round match for South Carolina. Nicole Flower and Angeles Paz were battling in third sets on courts four and five, respectively, when play was suspended.