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COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 3 Ohio State men’s tennis team begins the Big Ten dual season at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Schwartz Tennis Center in West Lafayette, Ind. After winning three-consecutive Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, the Buckeyes will now begin their hunt for a fourth crown, starting with the Boilermakers. Live stats and updates for the match against Purdue will be available at purduesports.com.

Ohio State (11-1; 0-0 Big Ten) has won 40-consecutive matches against Big Ten opponents and are 91-5 its last 96 league matches, including postseason play. The Scarlet and Gray went a perfect 13-0 last season against Big Ten opponents.

The Buckeyes are coming off two home victories, sweeping No. 25 Notre Dame Feb. 21 and No. 14 LSU Feb. 22 with 7-0 scores. The wins mark the 78th and 79th-consecutive victories at home for the Buckeyes, which dates back to the 2003 season. The Buckeyes are now 6-0 at home and are 3-0 when playing on the road. Ohio State has a 2-1 neutral record after participating at the 2009 ITA Team Indoor Championship in Chicago.

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 Tuesday. The Buckeyes are 11-1 on the season with wins over ranked opponents in No. 8 UCLA, No. 14 LSU, No. 15 Pepperdine, No. 21 Wake Forest, No. 22 North Carolina, No. 25 Notre Dame, No. 32 Virginia Tech and No. 64 Stetson. Ohio State is 6-0 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 singles and doubles standings, announced Feb. 19, 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.

BIG TEN RANKINGS
The Big Ten Conference has nine of eleven teams ranked in the latest ITA Team Standings announced Feb. 24.

RANK     SCHOOL
   3          Ohio State
  11         Illinois
  18         Michigan
  39         Wisconsin
  46         Penn State
  48         Minnesota
  58         Iowa
  59         Indiana
  67        Northwestern

A LOOK AT PURDUE
When the Boilermakers host No. 3 Ohio State Thursday, it will mark the six-consecutive match the Boilermakers have faced a ranked opponent this season. Purdue (3-5; 0-1 Big Ten) are 1-3 against ranked teams this season, with their last two losses coming by a score of 4-3. The Boilermakers started this run against ranked opponents by dropping a decision to No. 47Arkansas at home Feb. 8. Purdue was then defeated, 4-3, by No. 68 William and Mary before winning, 4-3, over No. 73 Maryland – its first road triumph of the season. Most recently, the Boilermakers opened Big Ten competition by falling to No. 46 Penn State, 4-3.

Junior Slavko Bijelica leads the Boilermakers at the No. 1 singles. The Novi Sad, Serbia, native has won two-consecutive singles matches and is 6-2 this season. Bijelica and teammate Griff Nienberg are 4-4 in doubles when playing together.

Sophomore Eric Ramos is second on the team in the singles win column, dropping his first singles match at No. 2 singles, and just his second overall, Sunday against Penn State. Ramos and doubles partner Paul Foley are 6-1 this season as Purdue’s No. 3 duo after losing this past weekend.

OHIO STATE VS. PURDUE
Ohio State leads the all-time series against the Boilermakers, 66-18. Ohio State has won nine-consecutive matches against Purdue, all under current head coach Ty Tucker.

BUCKEYES VS. BIG TEN OPPONENTS
Last season, Ohio State recorded a combined Big Ten singles record of 53-7 and a total Big Ten doubles record of 25-5. Six Buckeyes went through singles play undefeated, including 10-0 ledgers by 2008 ITA All-Americans Bryan Koniecko, Justin Kronauge and Steven Moneke. The All-American Buckeye trio has combined for a career Big Ten singles record of 63-4 since joining the Scarlet and Gray.

Ohio State has won 40-consecutive matches against Big Ten opponents and is now 91-5 in its last 96 league matches, including postseason play. The Buckeyes have not lost to a Big Ten opponent in an away dual match since the 2004-05 campaign, dropping a 5-2 decision at Northwestern.

LAST TIME OUT
No. 3 Ohio State claimed two home victories last weekend against two Top 25 opponents. The Buckeyes hosted No. 25 Notre Dame Feb. 21 and dispatched the No. 25 Fighting Irish, 7-0, Feb. 21. No. 63 Balazs Novak, a native of Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, defeated David Anderson in two sets, 6-3, 6-1, to claim the win for the Buckeyes at No. 5 singles.

The Scarlet and Gray returned to action the next day and defeated No. 14 LSU, 7-0, after taking the doubles point with match wins at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles, respectively.  Matt Allare, a native of Mason, Ohio, put the match in the win column for the Buckeyes after defeating Julian Gauthier, 6-3, 7-5, at No. 4 singles. The win marks the tenth-consecutive singles victory this season for the six-foot, seven inch Buckeye who is now 13-2 overall for the 2009 spring season.

TEAM LEADERS
Two members of the Ohio State men’s tennis team are tied for most wins on the season with 20 triumphs. Bryan Koniecko, ranked fourth in singles in the ITA Standings, is 20-2 overall, while classmate and No. 22 Steven Moneke stands at 20-3 this season. Koniecko, the 2008 Big Ten Athlete of the Year, is 9-1 in dual matches this season, posting an 8-1 record at No. 1 singles. Moneke, who was named to the 2009 ITA Team Indoor Championships All-Tournament Team at No. 3 singles, has won 11-consecutive matches in his senior campaign with a perfect 11-0 dual match record.

In doubles, Moneke is tied with Matt Allare for most wins on the team with 15 victories. Moneke is 15-4 in doubles this season, while Allare sits at 15-5 overall.

The Buckeye pair of Allare and Justin Kronauge leads the team in double triumphs with nine (two losses). The duo is 5-1 in dual matches this season and is 3-1 at No. 1 doubles.

THE BIG TEN’S BEST
For the second-consecutive week, Steven Moneke, a senior co-captain on the third-ranked Ohio State men’s tennis team, was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week the conference announced Tuesday. Moneke shares the honor with Moritz Baumann of Wisconsin. Senior co-captain Bryan Koniecko received the weekly honor Feb. 10.

Moneke helped the No. 3 Buckeyes to win 7-0 victories against No. 25 Notre Dame and No. 14 LSU this past weekend. Highlighting Moneke’s weekend was his No. 1 singles performance against the Tigers, where the two-time All-American defeated No. 5 Michael Venus, the 2008 ITA All-American singles Champion, 6-2, 6-3. The win improves Moneke’s record to 20-3 in singles this season, winning 11-consecutive matches in 2008-09. The Buckeye is 11-0 in singles dual action and is currently third on the all-time Buckeye career singles wins list with 121 triumphs. Moneke, a native of Alten-Buseck, Germany, is ranked 22nd in the nation.

20-SOMETHINGS
Head coach Ty Tucker has led the Buckeyes to 20 or more wins in eight of nine complete seasons at Ohio State. Last year marked a record-breaking year for the Buckeyes as they compiled a 35-2 record, earning the most wins in a season in school history.

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.

HOME SWEET HOME
The Buckeyes have won a school-record 79-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.

UP NEXT
Ohio State returns to Columbus for one of its toughest tests at home this season against No. 10 Baylor Sunday at noon at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center.