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[ Friday, Feb. 12, 1999 ]

Netmen begin conference campaign vs. Buckeyes

Collegian Staff Writer

While many men will be delivering hugs, candy and flowers this Valentine's Sunday, the Penn State men's tennis team will be delivering serves, lobs and backhands in its first conference action of 1999.

The Nittany Lions start their Big Ten schedule at 1 p.m. Sunday in Columbus, Ohio. They will be facing a Buckeye team that already has played four matches, winning three without losing a single match.

Ohio State (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) defeated Toledo, Murray State and Bowling Green -- each by 7-0 scores. The Buckeyes' first conference matchup of the year resulted in a disappointing 6-1 loss to the 23rd-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers.

"Everyone's psyched for this match," said Penn State assistant coach Doug Schoenly. "They all want to beat Ohio State."

"We're feeling very positive," said freshman Jamie Gresh. "We've been playing really well lately."

Sunday's match will be the Lions' only Big Ten competition of the month, as they will meet only non-conference foes for the next month and a half. Upcoming for the Lions are powerhouses such as No. 18 Harvard and Florida International. Their next Big Ten action is not until March 27 at home against Purdue.

Does that make Sunday's match any more important?

"Not really," said Schoenly. "All the Big Ten matches are important. And every team is good. There are no guarantees."

Gresh took an opposite stance.

"I think it does," said Gresh. "It'll set the tone; the outcome will boost the team's morale."

The Lions will be led by seniors Eric Meditz and Mike Griesser and juniors Marc Dorfman and Jeff Martini. Griesser is 13th ranked in the East Region in singles, while Dorfman and Martini are ranked No. 26 and 28, respectively. Freshmen Chris DeStefano and Gresh have provided a recent spark during early tournaments in Wisconsin and Princeton.

"(DeStefano)'s a talented, big, strong guy," said Schoenly.

Ohio State boasts a relatively young team, as more than half its roster is comprised of underclassmen. Sophomore Chris Porter has won six straight sets and advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Indoor Championships last month in Wisconsin. Also last month, Porter advanced to the third round of the 24th Annual Milwaukee Tennis Classic.

Meanwhile, Buckeye senior Ben Basil has won eight straight sets and claimed the team's only win versus Minnesota.

The last meeting between these two teams was last April. Also in Columbus, the Lions edged the Buckeyes 4-2 in what turned out to be Penn State's sole conference win last season.

"It'll be a close match," said Schoenly, "should be a good one."

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Updated: Thursday, February 11, 1999  9:35:10 PM  -4
Requested: Sunday, October 12, 2008  4:59:29 PM  -4
Created: Wednesday, May 07, 2008  6:26:01 PM  -4