Season Review: Women's Tennis secures 18th consecutive OAC upper-division finish, appears in 16th OAC Tournament final during 2018-19 campaign

Season Review: Women's Tennis secures 18th consecutive OAC upper-division finish, appears in 16th OAC Tournament final during 2018-19 campaign

By Blake Moore

ADA — The Ohio Northern women's tennis program continued building upon its historic success during the 2018-19 season, securing its 18th successive Ohio Athletic Conference upper-division finish, its ninth consecutive winning season, and its 16th OAC Tournament finals berth under 18th-year head coach Scott Wills.

This season, the Polar Bears compiled a 20-7 overall record and a 6-2 mark against league opponents to finish third in the final OAC regular season standings. Their effort marks the ninth straight season ONU has ended among the top-three finishers in the conference standings, a run which includes four OAC Regular Season titles.

Northern went on to make its 18th successive appearance in the OAC Tournament, having qualified for the conference postseason every season since its inception in 2001-02. The Orange and Black would roll past sixth-seeded Capital 5-0 and avenge a regular season loss to second-seeded Otterbein 5-2 to make its 16th appearance in the OAC Tournament finals where the squad fell to top-seeded John Carroll.

"We had a very solid year for our Polar Bear tennis program and made good progress and improvements both individually and as a team," Wills remarked. "We were playing our best tennis at the end of the year. The comeback win against a very talented Ottebein squad in the OAC Tournament - turning the tables from a loss shortly prior to the tournament - was a good example of this improvement." 

Coach Wills is the winningest coach in Ohio Northern tennis history with a 368-99 overall coaching record, good for a .788 career win percentage. His ledger also includes an impressive 140-16 mark against the OAC, a .897 win percentage.

He currently ranks first in wins among all active Ohio women's college tennis coaches and ranks second all-time in Ohio college tennis history among all NCAA Division I, II, III, and NAIA coaches.

During the campaign, three Polar Bears made history joining the institution's 100-Win Club. Senior Ashley Ochsenhirt (Birmingham, Ala./Briarwood Christian) and juniors Mackenzie Wills (Ada) and Katie Curry (Oxford/Talawanda) reached the plateau, combining for 366 total victories for the Polar Bears during their careers.

With her 133 career wins, Wills moves into seventh all-time on the program's career wins list. She also jumped to eighth on the ONU all-time singles wins list (66) and tied the school records for doubles victories (26) and single-season wins (50) during her junior season.

For their efforts, the trio joined junior Kaleigh Cummins (Springfield/Northeastern) and freshman Olivia Schrager (Dayton/Miami Valley) on the 2019 All-Ohio Athletic Conference squads.

Ochsenhirt headlined the selections after receiving her third consecutive First-Team All-OAC nod. Schrager was tabbed Second-Team All-OAC in her first collegiate season, while Wills, Curry, and Cummins garnered Honorable Mention status.

Ochsenhirt has been named First-Team All-OAC each season she has played at Ohio Northern after transferring from Mississippi College.

This season, she ended second on the team with 25 doubles victories at No. 1-2 doubles and ended fourth on the team with 19 singles wins, playing exclusively on the No. 1 court. The senior from Birmingham, Alabama posted a 44-15 overall record, which included an 11-3 record against conference opposition.

In her three seasons at ONU, Ochsenhirt has compiled a 124-46 overall record for a .729 career win percentage. She posted 65 career victories in doubles play and 59 wins in singles action and stands among the top-10 on the single-season wins list in singles, doubles, and overall victories.

Ochsenhirt has also been named the OAC Player of the Week six times during her career.

Schrager ended third on the team with a 21-10 singles mark and finished fourth with a 16-16 record in doubles action. She also ended fourth on the team with 37 victories overall during her inaugural season at ONU.

In conference play, the freshman compiled a 5-2 doubles mark and an impressive 6-1 record in singles action, primarily at the No. 2 slot.

Wills recorded her first All-OAC nod after leading ONU in overall wins, doubles victories, and tying for the team lead with 24 singles wins. During conference play, she posted an undefeated 7-0 singles record and put together a 6-2 doubles record.

Additionally, she was named OAC Player of the Week for the first time in her career on April 15.

Curry also garnered her first all-conference honor with the announcement.

This season, Curry tied Wills for the team lead with 24 singles victories and added 17 doubles wins to end third for the Polar Bears. She boasted a 6-1 OAC singles record and a 6-2 OAC doubles mark amid her 41 victories this year.

Through three seasons, Curry owns a 106-49 overall record.

Cummins picked up her first All-OAC honor with her Honorable Mention kudos.

This season, Cummins overcame an injury to post a 10-17 overall record for the Polar Bears. The junior from Springfield went 6-9 in doubles play, including a 3-2 mark against the OAC, and finished 4-8 in singles play at the No. 3 slot.

She currently owns a 57-49 overall career record with 30 singles wins and 27 doubles wins. In addition to her All-OAC nod, Cummins was named an Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Scholar Athlete in 2017-18.

During the fall slate, the Polar Bears blanked area-rival Defiance and NAIA foe Concordia (Mich.) to kick off the 2018-19 campaign and start a season-opening, six-match win streak.

ONU wrapped up 2018 with a trip to the three-day Oberlin Invitational, two dual victories over Thiel (Pa.) and Washington & Jefferson (Pa.), and a visit to the NCAA Division III Championships host site Kalamazoo (Mich.) for the ITA Regional tournament.

Ohio Northern opened a busy spring slate with a narrow 5-4 victory over a ranked Oberlin squad on February 23 at the Westwood Tennis & Fitness Center before departing on its annual Spring Break trip. The Polar Bears ended 3-2 on their trip to the Los Angeles, California metropolitan area.

Following a 5-4 loss to Ohio Wesleyan and a 9-0 rout over Saint Francis (Ind.), ONU opened the 2019 OAC schedule with a 6-3 victory over Mount Union on Senior Day.

In April, Northern blanked Heidelberg and Aurora (Ill.) before squaring off against NCAA Division I foe Valparaiso (Ind.) of the Missouri Valley Conference, who topped the Polar Bears 7-2.

The Orange and Black then rattled off a six-match win streak, which included four straight conference victories, to ensure their spot in the OAC Tournament.