Despite entering the week with a 6-3 record, the Ohio State Women’s Tennis team is actually No. 5 in the most recent ITA rankings.
To understand this, recognize that the ITA rankings are entirely computer-based. Every player is given a score, based on the opponents defeated and lost to. It’s not meant to be a particularly predictive ranking. The ranking only tells us about the quality of opponents and how well the team performed against them.
Therefore, with wins over four teams in the Top 16 (and two more over teams in the Top 40), Ohio State’s rapid ranking rise is understandable. We can also understand why the three losses haven’t hurt the ranking too much, especially since all three are ranked in the Top 20.
This brings us to Thursday night, when the Buckeyes began Big Ten play against No. 46 Purdue. The Boilermakers are, shockingly, Ohio State’s worst opponent so far, and the Buckeyes took care of business. Ohio State easily won the doubles point with two 6-1 sets, and were leading 5-2 in the unfinished third set.
Unlike most matches, which end the dual match as soon as one team reaches four points, Ohio State and Purdue played out all six singles courts in full. If this had been a standard dual match, the Buckeyes would have won 4-0. Nationally-ranked Buckeyes Shiori Fukuda, Irina Cantos-Siemers, and Danielle Wolf each easily finished off their singles matches, clinching the victory for the Buckeyes.
Of the then-irrelevant singles matches, Purdue did win two of the final three, including a three-set victory by Nikol Dobrilova over formerly nationally-ranked Kolie Allen. Those losses on the later courts could be a bit concerning for the Buckeyes, as you can’t always rely on your top players to see you through. You need the ones at the bottom of the lineup too. Still, this was a strong victory for Ohio State, though there is definitely room to improve as the season goes on.
The Buckeyes dip back out of conference for a match against Florida State on Sunday (broadcast on Tennis Channel, which is great exposure for the programs in particular and college tennis in general). After that, it’s back to Big Ten play for the rest of the season (aside from one early-April trip to face Baylor). The Buckeyes looked to be the class of the Big Ten in early-season play. Let’s see if they sustain that through the conference season.