May 2, 2004
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 2 seed Ohio State men’s tennis team fell to the No. 1 seed and nationally-ranked No. 1 Illinois, 4-1, Sunday in the final match at the 2004 Big Ten Championship in East Lansing, Mich. The Buckeyes fell to 23-4 overall and 11-2 in the Big Ten. The Illini improved to 28-0 overall and 13-0 in Big Ten play and received an automatic bid to the 2004 NCAA Championship. Illinois claimed their third consecutive Big Ten title and extended its win streak to an NCAA record of 60 matches.
The Buckeyes fell short in the doubles portion as the Illini took the point after wins on the Nos. 1 and 3 courts. The OSU pair of Brenton Contini (Sr., Dover, Ohio/Dover) and Dennis Mertens (So., Braaschaat, Belgium/Koninkiljk) fell, 8-5, to Ryler DeHeart and GD Jones. At the No. 1 position Jeremy Wurtzman (Sr., Rochester, N.Y./Brickhouse Academy/Florida) and Joey Atas (Fr., Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall) suffered their first conference loss after an 8-6 decision to No. 6 Phil Stolt and Brian Wilson. The match at the No. 2 spot was left abandoned with the score knotted at 8-8 (5-5).
Ohio State battled Illinois in singles action with three-of-six matches going into a first set tiebreak. The Illini put their second and third points on the board at the Nos. 2 and 4 spots. Chris Klingemann (Fr., Bradenton, Fla./Texas Tech Independent) fell 6-4, 6-1 to No. 45 Stolt and Devin Mullings (Fr., Freeport, Bahamas/Ft. Lauderdale Prepatory) was handed a 6-3, 6-3 decision by Illinois’ Michael Calkins.
Wurtzman, the No. 4 singles player in the nation, tallied Ohio State’s lone point as he defeated No. 1 Brian Wilson, 7-6 (4), 6-3. In 2004 duals, Wurtzman’s only conference loss was to Wilson on April 11.
With matches at the Nos. 3, 5 and 6 positions in play, the Buckeyes would have needed to win on all three courts to break Illinois’ 59-match win streak and claim the Big Ten title. The clinched win for the Illini came at the No. 3 spot where DeHeart knocked off Atas, 7-5, 6-3.
Next up, the Buckeyes will await a bid to the 2004 NCAA Championship. Since head coach Ty Tucker’s arrival in the 2000 season, Ohio State has received four consecutive bids to the NCAA Championships.
No. 1 Seed Illinois – 4, No. 2 Seed Ohio State – 1
1. #4 Jeremy Wurtzman (OSU) def. #1 Brian Wilson (UI), 7-6 (4), 6-3
2. #45 Phil Stolt (UI) def. Chris Klingemann (OSU), 6-4, 6-1
3. #120 Ryler DeHeart (UI) def. Joey Atas (OSU), 7-5, 6-3
4. #123 Michael Calkins (UI) def. Devin Mullings (OSU), 6-3, 6-3
5. Ross Wilson (OSU) vs. #89 Chris Martin (UI), 7-6 (3), 4-5 (abd)
6. GD Jones (UI) vs. Dennis Mertens (OSU), 7-6 (3), 2-4 (abd)
Order of finish: 2, 4, 1, 3
1. #6 Stolt/Wilson (UI) def. No. 32 Atas/Wurtzman (OSU), 8-6
2. Scott Green/Wilson (OSU) vs. Calkins/Martin (UI), 8-8 (5-5) (abd)
3. DeHeart/Jones (UI) def. Brenton Contini/Mertens (OSU), 8-5
Order of finish: 3, 1