When Ohio State hired Melissa Schaub as its assistant women’s tennis coach in 2011, it was an exciting homecoming for the Ohio native. “I don’t know if it gets any better than Ohio State and being a part of this athletic department,” Schaub said. Now, after spending just a year on the Buckeyes’ staff, Schaub finds herself as the interim coach for the 2012-13 season after the departure of former coach Chuck Merzbacher, who was hired by Minnesota in July. She said she always wanted to return to Ohio and coach the Buckeyes. “It’s been great, it’s a dream come true job for me at Ohio State, being from Ohio and just growing up a fan,” Schaub said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls. They’ve made the transition easy.” Still less than midway through the season, some members of the team said they have bought into what their new coach is teaching them and look to build on a promising start to the year. Junior Noelle Malley has been at OSU longer than Schaub has, but Malley has picked up on Schaub developing leadership as the year has gone on. “I feel like she has gained more confidence in what she’s telling us, and she’s adjusted to her role really well,” Malley said. “She’s just doing what she wants in practice and seeing what we need to work on.” During Schaub’s first season in Columbus as an assistant coach, the team struggled, going 10-15 on the year. Malley already feels more confident about achieving a better result than last year with Schaub at the helm. “Everybody is in way better shape this year,” Malley said. “We feel really confident when we play matches.” Graduating from Tennessee in 2006, Schaub was a star for the Volunteers, earning All-American honors her freshman season in Knoxville. Gabby Steele, a senior for the Buckeyes, said she likes having a coach that is close to her age who knows what they are dealing with as student-athletes. “It helps because she’s able to relate a lot,” Steele said. “She just got out of college, too, so she knows exactly what we are going through.” Not one to let distractions get in the way, Schaub said she is confident that the shaky job security that comes with the title of interim coach will not change how she goes about the season. “You can’t let that get in the way of the kind of coach you’re going to be or how you treat the team,” Schaub said. “It’s all about trying to get wins and bettering the program and getting these guys to buy into the system.” The Buckeyes are set to travel to West Lafayette, Ind., to play Purdue for their first conference road trip game of the season on Friday at 3 p.m.