COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the No. 1 seed, the Ohio State men’s tennis team won its fifth-consecutive Big Ten Tournament title Sunday after defeating No. 2-seed Illinois, 4-1, at the IU Tennis Center in Bloomington, Ind. With the win, the Buckeyes (32-1; 13-0 Big Ten) earn an automatic bid into the 2010 NCAA Team Championship.
Ohio State has won six tournament titles (2001, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10) in Ty Tucker’s 11-year stretch as head coach. Reaching the final for the seventh-consecutive season, the Buckeyes have now claimed seven Big Ten Tournament titles in program history. Ohio State won its first Big Ten Tournament in 1991 – Tucker’s (1989-1991) junior year at Ohio State.
The Scarlet and Gray extended its Big Ten Tournament win streak to 15. Tucker is now 25-5 in conference tournament action and has also led the Buckeyes to 117 wins in their last 122 league matches.
“It was a tough doubles point to start the match and our guys fought hard today,” Tucker said. “The team had a goal coming in and they didn’t want the senior class to lose a Big Ten regular-season or tournament match. It’s good to see them leave Ohio State with such a great accomplishment.”
Junior Balazs Novak claimed the Buckeyes’ tournament crown after defeating Johnny Hamui 6-1, 6-2 at No. 4 singles. Owning a 34-6 overall record, Novak has won 15 straight matches.
As always, the doubles point proved to be significant, especially when the Buckeyes and Illini meet. Ohio State began the afternoon winning a highly competitive first point. At No. 3, senior co-captain Justin Kronauge and Novak defeated Connor Roth and Stephen Hoh, 8-6, to finish first. The Buckeye duo remains perfect on the season with an impressive 18-0 overall record with 16 victories coming from No. 3.
At No. 2, juniors Shuhei Uzawa and Matt Allare defeated their third nationally-ranked duo of the season. This time the Buckeye tandem downed No. 83 Johnny Hamui and Dennis Nevolo, 9-7, to clinch the Buckeyes’ 29th doubles point of the season. Allare and Uzawa have produced a team-high 21 wins this season.
At No. 1, 15th-ranked Chase Buchanan and Dino Marcan defeated No. 60 Marek Czerwinski and Abe Souza, 8-5, rounding out doubles action. The two Buckeyes are 14-2 at the top of the lineup this season. Ohio State’s pursuit of its fifth-straight title appeared promising as it possesses a 29-0 record when winning the doubles point.
In singles, the Illini evened the match at 1-all when Marcan retired. Marcan was trailing 87th-ranked Souza 6-3, 3-1 at No. 3 before play was suspended.
The Buckeyes regained the lead thanks to one of the best performances by Uzawa. A native of Chiba, Japan, Uzawa swept Roth 6-0, 6-0 at No. 6 for his 20th victory of the year. He has had at least 20 singles wins in each of his three years at Ohio State.
Buchanan, ranked ninth in the country, put the Buckeyes within one point of the title after a 6-4, 6-0 victory vs. No. 42 Nevolo at No. 1. The 2010 Big Ten Athlete of the Year, Buchanan is now 28-4 overall with 23 wins at the top of the lineup.
Ohio State will now prepare for the 2010 NCAA Division I Team Championship. The journey to Athens, Ga., begins with the 2010 NCAA Division I men’s and women’s tennis selection announcements, airing between 5-6 p.m. Tuesday, May 4 on ESPNews.
2010 Big Ten Tournament Championship
No. 4 Ohio State 4, No. 14 Illinois 1
Indiana University Tennis Center
May 2, 2010
Tennis Match Final Results
1. No. 9 Chase Buchanan (OSU) def. No. 42 Dennis Nevolo (Illinois) – 6-4, 6-0
2. No. 31 Justin Kronauge (OSU) vs. No. 73 Marek Czerwinski (Illinois) – 3-6, 3-1, unfinished
3. No. 87 Abe Souza (Illinois) def. Dino Marcan (OSU) – 6-3, 3-1, retired
4. Balazs Novak (OSU) def. Johnny Hamui (Illinois) – 6-1, 6-2
5. Matt Allare (OSU) vs. Stephen Hoh (Illinois) – 4-6, 2-3, unfinished
6. Shuhei Uzawa (OSU) def. Connor Roth (Illinois) – 6-0, 6-0
1. No. 15 Chase Buchanan/Dino Marcan (OSU) def. No. 60 Marek Czerwinski/Abe Souza (Illinois) – 8-5
2. Shuhei Uzawa/Matt Allare (OSU) def. No. 83 Johnny Hamui/Dennis Nevolo (Illinois) – 9-7
3. Justin Kronauge/Balazs Novak (OSU) def. Connor Roth/Stephen Hoh (Illinois) – 8-6
*Rankings from latest Campbell/ITA Division I College Tennis Rankings announced April 27
Ohio State 32-1; National ranking No. 4
Illinois 19-10,; National ranking No. 14
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (3,6,1,4)
Match was moved indoor prior the start of play