After nearly three months off, the Ohio State women’s tennis team is set to take a step toward a bigger stage with two matches on its first day back.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to open their spring season at the Varsity Tennis Center with a doubleheader against West Virginia and Cleveland State on Thursday.
The team most recently played at the Tennessee Fall Invitational, where coach Melissa Schaub said it was helpful to see how the girls compete in a dual-match setting.
“Our two freshmen, Olivia Sneed and Anna Sanford, did really well, they played higher in the lineup the last day against Kentucky so that’s something good to see,” Schaub said. “I think we have a lot of options with our lineup right now.”
Schaub said her main focus going into the season is watching her players improve while staying healthy, adding she feels confident going into the season, having set a major goal for her team.
“We hope to compete for a Big Ten title this year, obviously the conference is really tough,” Schaub said. “Northwestern and Michigan have kind of owned that spot for a while, but I think we have a deep team and that we’ll be competitive.”
Aside from pushing for tennis achievements, Schaub said she hopes for much more from her team.
“Teaching these girls life lessons, working them hard and having them be successful in life when they’re finished here, I mean that’s the biggest goal of mine,” Schaub said. “Whether that’s, they continue to play tennis for a career after this or successful in any job that they decide to go into. I think doing well in school, being disciplined and being successful are the most important things.”
Current sophomore Sandy Niehaus led the Buckeyes with 32 overall wins and nine Big Ten wins during the 2013-14 season and was most recently ranked No. 26 in the season-opening doubles ITA poll with sophomore Gabriella De Santis.
Niehaus said she likes the fact that college tennis is about being on a team.
“When I was younger, it was just all about you individually and now I like the fact that it’s about something bigger than that,” Niehaus said.
Niehaus credits her success to her teammates, as she said they have been very motivational in helping push herself to the best of her abilities. She said her motive to win is for her teammates.
“The biggest thing for me is, I like being on a team and I want to do well, not only for myself, but for the team,” Niehaus said.
OSU recently winning a national title in football has helped to set the bar higher for the team.
“We saw how crazy everyone went so I think that we would like a chance to make the school go just as crazy if we could win one,” Niehaus said.
The Buckeyes are set to take on West Virginia at 9 a.m. and Cleveland State at 2 p.m. on Thursday.