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Friday May 9, 2008Auburn Downs Ohio State, 4-3, In NCAA Championships Opener

Gainesville, FL

The No. 29 Auburn University tennis team kicked off the NCAA Championships on Friday afternoon with a 4-3 victory over No. 35 Ohio State at Linder Stadium at Ring Complex.


With the victory, the Tigers improved their record this season to 4-4 in matches decided by a 4-3 score, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row.


After dropping the doubles point despite a victory on court one, AU got wins from junior Alex Haney (6-2, 6-1) on court two, junior Whitney Chappell (6-3, 6-3) on court four and sophomore Melissa Koning (6-4, 6-3) on court three before sophomore Fani Chifchieva (7-6 (4), 6-1) clinched the match on court one.


Ohio State was on the winning end of the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles matches, roaring back from a 1-0 deficit to claim the point. The squad of freshman Paloma Escobedo and senior Caitlin O’Keefe battled for an 8-6 victory to get the Buckeyes on the board, and junior Julie Blackmore and freshman Cami Hubbs played to the same score en route to clinching the doubles portion of the match just minutes later.


The Tigers advance to meet the winner of Friday’s second match, a tilt between sixth-ranked Florida and Jacksonville, at 4 p.m. ET. Live results will be available via


Auburn head coach Tim Gray

On advancing to the second round of the NCAA Championships:

“We’re really excited. First of all, hats off to Ohio State. We knew they were a very solid team coming in, and they played a great match. We knew that it was going to be tight, so we feel great about moving on. We wish it would’ve been a little bit shorter of a match because Florida’s tough even when you have a lot of rest, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”


On how the Tigers competed on Friday:

“It’s difficult when you have a few weeks off, and I’m sure it was the same for Ohio State. We just finished exams, so you lose some of your continuity and rhythm. That’s where we were in the doubles, but I felt we turned it around in the singles and found our rhythm. That was the difference in today’s match.”


Ohio State Head Coach Chuck Merzbacher

On the overall play of the team:

“I thought we played really well. We got the doubles point, which gave us the chance to be in the match, and I thought that was key. We showed up today, it was hot out there and I think the girls handled that really well. I’m just really proud of them. We had a great year and we played hard in this match and gave ourselves a chance to win.”


On who stood out for the Buckeyes on Friday:

“I thought our senior and captain (Caitlin O’Keefe) really stepped up her game. It was her only NCAA tournament and she went 2-0, winning her doubles and her singles, so I would say emotionally that was something special and we’re really proud of her. I would say that Christina Keesey stepped up, and then obviously our number one player, our freshman (Paloma Escobedo), proved that she can play with anyone in the country.”


NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships

First Round (Round of 64)

Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex

Gainesville, Fla.


Friday, May 09, 2008


Final Score: Auburn 4, OSU 3



1. Alex Haney/Melissa Koning (14), AU def. Angela Dipastina/Christina Keesey, OSU 8-6

2. Julie Black/Cami Hubbs, OSU def. Whitney Chappell/Fani Chifchieva, AU 8-6*

3. Paloma Escobedo/Caitlin O’Keefe, OSU def. Gaby Beelen/Jil Hastenrath, AU 8-6



1. Fani Chifchieva (14), AU def. Paloma Escobedo, OSU 7-6 (4), 6-1*

2. Alex Haney (71), AU def. Angela Dipasina, OSU 6-2, 6-1

3. Melissa Koning, AU def. Julie Blackmore, OSU 6-4, 6-3

4. Whitney Chappell, AU vs. Cami Hubbs, OSU 6-3, 6-3

5. Christina Keesey, OSU def. Jil Hastenrath, AU 6-4, 6-4

6. Caitlin O’Keefe, OSU def. Dunja Djuranovic, AU 6-3, 6-4


Order of Finish: Doubles-1, 3, 2*; Singles- 2, 4, 6, 3, 5, 1*

Updated Records: Auburn 16-9; Ohio State 19-8

*indicates clinching doubles point/dual match victory



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