The Buckeyes take on Butler and Xavier today at the Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., respectively. For live updates, click HERE.
For Matt Allare, tennis has always been in his genes.
A junior on the Ohio State men’s tennis team, Allare is from a family filled with a history of tennis. The native of Mason, Ohio, along with his brother, John, became the first set of brothers to win back-to-back state titles in Ohio High School state tournament history.
“It’s very genetic,” Allare, who claimed two Ohio High School state titles in singles (2006, ’07), said. “Winning a state championship in high school is always special. My brother was there to watch me after he won it the year before and it was great. Having a brother who won a championship before me meant more than winning it back-to-back. It was pretty sweet.”
But his brother is not the only one who has had a talented tennis life. Matt’s father, John, and mother, Bunnie, both have years of collegiate tennis experience.
“My mom played at Florida Southern for a few years and also played some professionally,” Allare said. “My dad played at Notre Dame for three years too, so it has been in our family for awhile. My brother went to Michigan State the last four years (2006-09).”
Allare said his mom taught him the sport as he grew up.
“She taught at this club the entire time I was growing up called Harpers Point in Cincinnati,” Allare said. “I had a lot of teammates to play with at this place like Justin [Kronauge]. He would come down and practice with me. Everyone with my mom was helpful in developing me.”
Allare has developed as a player at Ohio State too. Last season, as a sophomore, he claimed career season-highs in singles and doubles with 31 and 30, respectively. The sophomore class, along with Balazs Novak and Shuhei Uzawa, became a key factor in the Buckeyes’ run to the NCAA championship final.
“I think we are definitely going to be relied on this season and I think coach knows that,” Allare said. “We are going to have to hold down are spots, especially in singles. Balazs is going to be a horse for us this year. He’s lost only a few matches the entire time he’s been here. Shuhei is in my opinion one of the hardest workers out there.”
Allare said this junior class has grown as leaders on the court as well, something his parents taught him how to do growing up in the family.
“We all have a presence on the team,” Allare said. “I think the younger guys look up to us to do our job and I think the older guys like our captains, Mike and Justin, do too. We are all in this together as a team. I have to thank my parents for who I am today and I want to show my leadership on the court.”
Allare said he keeps in touch with his family as best he can between the busy hours of tennis and class and he actually got to play with his brother over the holiday break.
“He was working me pretty good over the holidays,” Allare said. “He’s retired and he is still beating me.”
Allare has also received a lot of help and support from head coach and 2009 Wilson/ITA National Coach of the Year Ty Tucker.
“He [Tucker] always gets us in the right mindset before a match,” Allare said. “He gives us good advice and a scouting report and is always there for us on the court. He has always told our team to fight for every point no matter what.”
Tucker, who is now in his 11th season at Ohio State, said Allare has been an important member to the program’s success for the past three years.
“Matt Allare is a team leader who brings a ton of excitement to the court every day,” Tucker said. “He has developed into one of the finest serve and volley players in the country. Matt has won 85 percent of his dual matches his first two years and we look for him to continue his winning ways.”
Allare, who owned a 28-match win streak last season, said the team has the same expectations as they did last year and hopes to win another Big Ten championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament.
“The upperclassmen have been together for awhile now,” Allare said. “We have a lot of young talent coming in this season for us and we definitely have great team chemistry. We are a dangerous team and if everything clicks for us, we could make a serious run again.”