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COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 3 Ohio State men’s tennis team will prepare for two Top 25 home matches this weekend, competing against No. 25 Notre Dame Saturday and No. 15 LSU Sunday. Both matches will begin at noon at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center.

The Buckeyes are returning to dual action after advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2009 ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Chicago Feb. 14. The squad fell to No. 8 Tennessee, 4-3, at the Midtown Tennis Center. After dropping its first decision of the season, the Buckeyes (9-1; 0-0 Big Ten) defeated then-No. 4 UCLA, 4-0, in a consolation match. The match is the first win against a Top 5 opponent this season.

At home, Ohio State has defeated Butler, Xavier, No. 64 Stetson and No. 32 Virginia Tech.

Under head coach Ty Tucker, who is in his 10th season at the helm of the Scarlet and Gray, the four Buckeye home wins for the 2008-09 season improved their home win streak to 77-consecutive matches, which dates back to the 2003 season.

HOME SWEET HOME

The Buckeyes have won a school-record 77-consecutive home matches dating back to the 2002-03 season. No other Big Ten team in any sport has won as many contests in a row at home. The Scarlet and Gray won all 16 home competitions last season, marking the fifth-consecutive year it has achieved perfection on its home courts. The streak began in 2003 with a 5-2 victory over Purdue April 6.

OHIO STATE RANKS HIGH
Ohio State stands as the No. 3 team in the nation in the latest ITA NCAA Men’s Division I rankings announced Thursday. The Buckeyes are 9-1 on the season with wins over ranked opponents in No. 8 UCLA, No. 15 Pepperdine, No. 21 Wake Forest, No. 22 North Carolina, No. 32 Virginia Tech and No. 64 Stetson. Ohio State is 4-0 at home, while going 3-0 on the road in dual competition.

Under 10th-year head coach Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes have now ranked in the Top 25 in the ITA rankings for five-consecutive years. For the past two seasons, Ohio State has earned a preseason ranking of No. 3 and finished third behind Georgia and Virginia both in 2007 and 08. Previous to that, the Buckeyes finished 5th in 2006 and 24th in 2005.

BUCKEYES IN THE RANKINGS
The latest ITA standings announced Thursday ranked five Buckeyes in both singles and doubles within the top collegiate tennis talent in the nation.

In singles, Bryan Koniecko ranks at No. 4, while teammates Steven Moneke and Justin Kronauge place at Nos. 22 and 23, respectively. Sophomore Balazs Novak sits at No. 63 in singles, while classmate Shuhei Uzawa ranks No. 82. Ohio State is one of two schools to have three players in singles listed in the Top 25, joining Virginia.

In doubles, Ohio State has two Buckeye pairs listed in the rankings. Moneke and Novak stand as the 29th-ranked doubles team in the nation. The duo has an overall record of 5-1 overall on the year, going a perfect 3-0 at No. 2 doubles. Moneke and Koniecko pair up to be No. 37 in doubles. The two senior captains are 6-1 this season when playing together.

THE NO. 25 NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Notre Dame, ranked No. 25 in the ITA standings, is 5-4 on the season. The Fighting Irish have defeated three-ranked opponents this season in No. 67 William & Mary, No. 26 Texas Tech and No. 35 Duke. Notre Dame is coming off a victory at Michigan State, defeating the Spartans, 6-1, and improving its winning streak to four-consecutive matches. The win against the Spartans snapped Michigan State’s eight match win streak. Before traveling to Columbus, the Fighting Irish host Northwestern Thursday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

FIGHTING IRISH RANKINGS
Notre Dame has two student-athletes ranked in the ITA Men’s Division I standings in singles in No. 18 Bret Helgeson and No. 122 Daniel Stahl. Helgeson and Tyler Davis pair up to form the 13th-ranked doubles team in the nation. Helgeson, was named the Big East Player of the Week Feb. 11

OHIO STATE VS. NOTRE DAME
The Buckeyes own a 23-26 all-time record against the Fighting Irish. The Scarlet and Gray last played Nortre Dame last season winning, 6-1, in South Bend, Ind. The Buckeyes have won the last two meetings against the Fighting Irish. Under head coach Ty Tucker, Ohio State is 5-4 against Notre Dame.

THE NO. 15 LSU TIGERS
LSU, 15th in the ITA standings, is 2-1 overall on the season. The Tigers have not competed since defeating No. 27 Rice, 4-3, Feb. 7 in Baton Rouge, La. The win against the Owls marked the first victory for the team after dropping two decisions to No. 26 Texas Tech and No. 12 Tulsa.

TIGER RANKINGS
The Tigers currently have the No. 2 singles player in the ITA Men’s Division I Standings. No. 2 Michael Venus is 11-4 in singles and 7-2 in doubles on the season. Venus, the 2008 Louisiana Player of the Year, defeated the nation’s No. 1 player, Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State, to win the 2008 D’Novo All-American Championship Oct. 12, becoming the first player in school history to win the title. In doubles, Venus and Neal Skupski stand at No. 9 in the n ation, while teammates James Cluskey and Julien Gauthier rank at No. 53.

OHIO STATE VS. LSU
The Buckeyes are 4-5 all-time against the Tigers. The Scarlet and Gray won the last meeting a year ago, 4-2, in Baton Rouge, La. All four wins have come under the helm of Ty Tucker. The Buckeyes have dropped just one match to the Tigers under Tucker.

Ohio State has won the last four-consecutive meetings against the Tigers. The squad defeated LSU, 4-0, in the round of 16 of the 2007 NCAA Tournament in Athens, Ga., during the 2006-07 campaign to  move on to the Buckeyes second-consecutive appearance in the final eight.

MONEKE LEADS THE TEAM
Steven Monke, a two-time ITA All-American, is tied for the most singles wins (18) on the Buckeye squad with an overall 18-3 record. Moneke is tied with classmate Bryan Koniecko, ranked fourth in the nation, who is 18-2 on the year. Moneke, who is ranked No. 22 in singles, has a perfect 9-0 dual record and was recently named to the 2009 ITA Team Indoor Championship All-Tournament Team. En route to his 3-0 record at the event, Moneke, a native Alten-Buseck, Germany, beat all of his opponents in straight-set victories.

Moneke leads the Buckeyes in doubles wins (14) claiming a 14-3 record on the year. Paired with Koniecko, the two have competed together to a 6-1 overall doubles record this season.

BRIGHT FUTURE
There is no sign of slowing down for Ohio State. Under Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes have risen from the cellar of the Big Ten Conference to a nationally dominant program, earning the ITA preseason No. 1 ranking in 2009.

The future continues to look bright for the Scarlet and Gray as Tucker’s incoming freshman class was voted the second-best in the nation by a panel of junior tennis experts in a media poll conducted by TennisRecruiting.net.

The class, consisting of all Ohio natives, includes Blue Chip star and New Albany native Chase Buchanan. In addition, Tucker has two five-star recruits in Peter Kobelt (New Albany) and Wyatt Lippert (Cincinnati) joining the team and a four-star recruit in Devin McCarthy (Cincinnati), who enrolled at Ohio State in January.

The Buckeye recruiting class is tied for second with Yale while Stanford earned the top nod.

UP NEXT
Ohio State will hit the road for its first Big Ten Conference match of the 2008-09 season. The Buckeyes will battle against Purdue Feb. 26 in West Lafayette, Ind.