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Buckeyes head to Michigan for NCAA’s

The Ohio State women’s tennis team travels to Ann Arbor, Mich. on Friday to take on DePaul University after receiving its third-straight NCAA tournament bid.

Posting a 19-9 record on the year, the No. 34 Buckeyes were rewarded for their season by receiving one of the tournament’s 33 at-large bids on Tuesday.

Coach Chuck Merzbacher was pleased with his team’s season and said the selection didn’t come as a surprise.

“We had one of the toughest schedules that we have ever had,” Merzbacher said. “We had 19 wins and I think we were rewarded for playing that tough schedule.”

Coming off a strong performance in the Big East tournament, which ended with a loss in the finals, the No. 30 DePaul Blue Demons will be making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Despite DePaul’s lack of tournament experience, unanimous All-Big Ten selection Kirsten Flower believes the two teams are equally matched.

“I think we match up very well. Obviously they are a great team, but so are we,” Flower said. “We had a good showing at the Big Ten tournament and I think this is just a great opportunity for us.”

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The Buckeyes and Blue Demons will hit the courts at the University of Michigan on Friday afternoon for the chance to advance to a second-round match with either Michigan or Illinois-Chicago on Saturday.

Although OSU is happy with its berth in the tournament, Merzbacher maintains that the goal of his program is to advance.

Flower reiterated her coach’s sentiment and said she believes that this team has what it takes to do just that.

“We have really good depth all up and down the line,” Flower said. “We can play, so if everyone shows up, we have a great chance of doing well and our goal is set for Georgia.”

If the Buckeyes are able to advance past this weekend, the team would travel to Georgia for the Sweet 16. However, both Merzbacher and Flower insist they must take it one match at a time.

“We have to focus on the first match because it is really the only one that matters,” Flower said. “It’s a one-and-done tournament — you lose and you’re out, so you have to focus on the first match.”

Nearly two weeks removed from its last match, Flower still has great confidence in her team.

“We’re tired of practicing,” she said. “We all want to play and I think we’re ready.”

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