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Feb. 18, 2007

CHICAGO – The No. 2 Ohio State men’s tennis team beat the No. 3 seed UCLA by a 4-2 score Sunday in the semifinals of the 2007 USTA/ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Tournament. The event is being hosted by the Midtown Tennis Club in Chicago.

The match was secured when the Buckeyes won the second set tiebreaker at No. 6 singles. OSU has opened the season with nine-consecutive wins for the second year in a row. The Buckeyes began 9-0 last season.

With the win, Ohio State claimed its first victory over the Bruins (7-2). OSU improves its all-time record against UCLA to 1-1.

Ohio State has outscored opponents 57-5 so far this season in nine matches. Opposing teams have managed to take only 20 of a possible 144 singles sets from OSU.

Ohio State will be making its first appearance in the team indoor final Sunday at noon against No. 1 Georgia. Monday will mark the first time the top two seeds have played for the title since 1996 when No. 2 UCLA beat No. 1 Stanford.

“This is a huge win for Ohio State,” Buckeye coach Ty Tucker said. “This team has worked as hard as any team in the country over the past year and they really deserve this. I know that being the number two seed we’re supposed to reach the final, but we’ve never been this far before and you never know how a team will react when they get this far.”

UCLA won the doubles point, but Ohio State rebounded in singles. Justin Kronauge’s (Fr./Fr., Dayton, Ohio/Centerville) come-from-behind win over Philipp Gruendler at No. 5 singles pushed Ohio State’s lead to 3-2. From there Devin Mullings (Sr./Sr., Freeport, Bahamas/Ft. Lauderdale Preparatory) clinched the victory at No. 3, out-lasting Chris Surapol 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

(So./So., Alten-Busick, Germany/Gesamtschale Giessen-Ost), the nation’s top ranked singles player, and Chris Klingemann (Sr./Sr., Bradenton, Fla./Texas Tech Independent) also provided wins for the Ohio State. Ben Kohlloeffel provided UCLA’s lone win in singles.

“We started out a little flat in doubles, but we knew we had a chance in singles,” Tucker said. “Coming in we thought we might have a tough time pulling out number one and five singles against Kohlloeffel and Gruendler. So when Kronauge came back (to beat Gruendler) that gave our team a lot of energy knowing we weren’t going to have to go through the pressure of being down 3-1 or 3-2. That was huge for us.”

Klingemann was thrilled to reach the final.

“It’s definitely a big win for us,” Klingemann said. “What made it even bigger was losing the doubles point. We were somehow able to rally back and beat a really good UCLA team. Tomorrow is a huge match. It is going to be really special for all of us going against one of the most storied programs in the country and having a very good chance to win.”

UCLA falls to 10-5 in team indoor semifinal matches. This was the Buckeyes first semifinal appearance. OSU is the third Big Ten school to reach this final, joining five-time finalist Illinois and Michigan, which made its lone appearance in 1975.

Defending team indoor champion Georgia beat Virginia 4-2 in the other semifinal. Georgia leads the all-time series against OSU 9-0. The last meeting was in 2005.

No. 2 Ohio State 4, No. 3 UCLA 2
Singles Results

1. No. 5 Benjamin Kohlloeffel (UCLA) def. No. 62 Bryan Koniecko (OSU/13-6) 6-4, 6-4
2. No. 1 Steven Moneke (OSU/25-5) def. Haythem Abid (UCLA) 6-4, 6-3
3. No. 42 Devin Mullings (OSU/19-3) def. No. 27 Chris Surapol (UCLA) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
4. No. 46 Chris Klingemann (OSU/18-4) def. Mathieu Dehaine (UCLA) 6-3, 6-4
5. No. 69 Justin Kronauge (OSU/14-4) def. Philipp Gruendler (UCLA) 1-6, 6-4, 6-4
6. No. 62 Drew Eberly (OSU/10-3) vs. Michael Look (UCLA) 5-7, 6-4, 4-5, unfinished

Doubles Results
1. Philipp Gruendler/Benjamin Kohlloeffel (UCLA) def. Justin Kronauge/Drew Eberly (OSU) 8-6
2. Haythem Abid/Chris Surapol (UCLA) def. No. 22 Devin Mullings/Chris Klingemann (OSU) 8-3
3. Steven Moneke/Bryan Koniecko (OSU) def. No. 18 Mathieu Dehaine/Jeremy Drean (UCLA) 8-3

Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (1,4,2,5,3)