April 13, 1999
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State Buckeyes (6-15, 0-8 Big Ten) were once again on the cusp of their first Big Ten victory since 1997 but had it snatched away at the last minute yet again, this time by a talented Northwestern squad. OSU also faced second-ranked Illinois last weekend, with the result being a far less gut-wrenching 7-0 defeat. This weekend, the Buckeyes travel to take on Wisconsin and Iowa.
One thing is certain to happen when the Badgers and Buckeyes hook up Saturday – one team is going to walk away with their first Big Ten win of the season.
Wisconsin (4-13, 0-6 Big Ten) and Ohio State have suffered similar fates this 1999 Big Ten season. Both teams are winless in the Big Ten. Both have played teams close but can’t seem to get over the top. Case in point, 11 of the 13 Badger losses have come by 4-3 or 5-2 scores while OSU has lost three of its last five by 4-3 scores. And both teams are currently mired in losing streaks, the Badgers having lost six in a row and 12 of 13 and the Buckeyes having lost nine in a row.
Mark Loughrin leads the Badgers out of the No. 1 singles spot. He is 21-13 on the year (2-4 Big Ten) and is ranked No. 37 in the nation. His best result came at the ITA All-American Championships in Austin, Texas, Sept. 15-18., where he won the consolation draw. His ranking climbed to a season-high No. 4 soon after that result.
Wisconsin is coached by Pat Klingelhoets. He is in his 17th year in Madison, having compiled a 228-202 record. He is the longest reigning head coach in Wisconsin tennis history.
OSU vs. WISCONSIN HISTORY
The Badgers lead the all-time series between the two programs, 31-19. The two teams played a very close match last year in Columbus, with Wisconsin winning 6-4 in the third set at No. 5 singles with the match score tied 3-3.
An omen of things to come could be this: the last regular season Big Ten win for OSU came at Wisconsin, 4-3, on April 5, 1997. The match Saturday will be the first time the Buckeyes have played the Badgers in Madison since that win.
The Hawkeyes enter this weekend with a 9-9 record (2-4 Big Ten) after defeating Wisconsin and losing to Minnesota last weekend. They will play Penn State Saturday morning before taking on the Buckeyes Sunday.
Iowa is paced by No. 1 singles player Tyler Cleveland. Last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year has not cooled off this season, going 10-6 in dual matches (3-3 Big Ten). He advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Indoor Championships, Jan. 16-18, before losing to eventual champion Jason Marshall of Purdue.
The Hawkeyes are coached by Steve Houghton. He is in his 17th year at the helm, having compiled a 212-182.
OSU vs. IOWA HISTORY
Iowa holds the narrowest of leads in the all-time series, 20-19. These two teams met twice last year – once in the regular season and once in the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa won both meetings, the regular season matchup in Iowa City being the closer of the two contests. The Hawkeyes won that match 4-3.
THE AGONY OF CLOSE DEFEAT
The question of whether it is easier to lose a heartbreaker or lose getting beaten badly could be posed to Ohio State head coach John Daly, and chances are he would have a good answer. Friday, for the third time in four matches, OSU lost an emotionally draining 4-3 match, this time to Northwestern. Sunday, the Buckeyes ran into a buzzsaw in Illinois, ranked No. 2 in the nation. OSU was defeated by the Fighting Illini 7-0.
The match against the Wildcats was all Northwestern in doubles, with the visitors from Evanston taking a 1-0 lead. The spread increased to 2-0 after an NU win at No. 1 singles.
But that’s when Ohio State started its comeback. Kevin Hawke picked up his second consecutive Big Ten victory, defeating Martin Bengtsson 6-3, 6-4 to make the score 2-1. The win by Hawke was a measure of revenge for the OSU freshman, who lost to Bengtsson in the Region IV Championships in the fall.
Andrew Carlson followed up Hawke’s win with a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5) win over Derrick Nguyen. Suddenly, the score was tied 2-2.
Meanwhile, at No. 4 singles OSUs Derek DeFalco and Northwestern’s Brad Erickson were involved in an epic battle. After Erickson took the first set 7-6, DeFalco came back with a tiebreaker win of his own in the second. The two battled deep into the third set and found themselves in another tiebreaker, in which DeFalco fell behind a mini-break early. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, DeFalco couldn’t rebound and ended up losing the match to give Northwestern a 3-2 lead.
The momentum from that win carried Northwestern through to victory. After clinching the match at No. 5 singles with a three-set win, the Wildcats’ No. 6 player Jamie Sahara retired to Bob Wellstein at 2-2 in the third, making the final score 4-3.
The match with Illinois was not as close. In conditions that could best be described as deplorable, the nation’s second-ranked team took the doubles point and proceeded to record straight set victories at Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 6 singles despite winds up to 35 mph. Two Buckeyes managed to take their opponents three sets – Andrew Carlson at No. 2 and Ben Basil at No. 5. Unfortunately for both, they were unable to pull out victories.
ALL’S WELL WITH BOB
Ohio State No. 6 singles player Bob Wellstein’s victory against Northwestern gave him 10 for the season, making him the fourth Buckeye to reach double-digits in victories this season. Other Buckeyes to have reached that mark are Chris Porter (20), Ben Basil (13) and Andrew Carlson (12).
If the tentative lineups for both teams hold, there will be a great match at No. 1 singles when OSU takes on Wisconsin, where OSUs No. 79 Chris Porter will take on UWs No. 37 Mark Loughrin. These two met in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Championships Jan. 17, a match won by Porter, 6-4, 6-2. That win, coupled with Porter’s Feb. 20 win over No. 11 Aaron Marchetti, catapulted Porter into the national rankings.
In the Iowa match, it will be Porter trying to get into the revenge business. He is scheduled to take on Tyler Cleveland, to whom he lost last year in the Iowa-OSU dual match 7-5, 6-4.
STILL FRESH AFTER FOUR YEARS
Senior Ben Basil came close but couldn’t quite record a singles victory last weekend. His next victory will give him 64 for his career, a mark that would tie him for 15th on OSUs all-time singles win list. Ironically, the man he would tie for 15th is current Buckeye assistant coach Ty Tucker.
BIG TEN UPDATE
It was an exciting weekend in the Big Ten, with five of the seven matches Saturday and Sunday being decided by 4-3 scores. Minnesota (5-2) was one of the big winners, going 2-0 and leap-frogging Purdue (4-2), which lost two 4-3 matches, to move into third-place in the conference standings. There were no changes at the top, with Michigan (7-0) and Illinois (6-0) currently sharing first place. Those two teams seemed poised to do battle for first place Sat., April 24, at the Varsity Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Michigan.
BUCKEYE FUN FACTS
— Chris Porter has been just short of automatic when he wins the first set this year. He is 19-4 when he takes a one set lead over his opponent.
— Andrew Carlson has a 6-2 record in tiebreakers, best on the squad. He is 4-1 in first set tiebreakers, 1-1 in the second set and 1-0 in the third set. His third-set tiebreak win came April 9 against Northwestern, when he defeated Derrick Nguyen 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5).
— Kevin Hawke has a 2-0 record when winning the second set after losing the first.
— Derek DeFalco was involved in one of the longer matches of the year against Northwestern April 9. He was defeated by Brad Erickson 7-6 (3), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5). In that match, he played as many tiebreakers as Chris Porter, Ben Basil and Bob Wellstein have the entire dual match season.
— Ben Basil has won three matches this dual match season in which he lost the first set, the most come-from-behind victories on the squad.
— Like Porter, when Basil wins the first set, it’s a safe assumption he will win the match. He is 10-1 during the season when taking a one set lead.
— When the Buckeyes take on Wisconsin and Iowa this weekend, Bob Wellstein will be looking for his first dual match win outside of Columbus. All seven of his dual match wins have come at home.
For the latest information pertaining to the Ohio State men’s tennis team, keep visiting the official website of the Ohio State Department of Athletics – www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com. Stories are posted approximately one hour after the completion of every OSU dual match. It is also the best place to keep up to date with statistical information and the race for the top of the Big Ten standings.