SETTING THE SCENE
COLUMBUS, Ohio – As part of the 2010 ITA Division I Men’s Kick-Off Weekend, the No. 3 Ohio State men’s tennis team is one of 15 schools set to host the qualifying rounds of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships this Saturday and Sunday at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center. This event will showcase the Top 60 men’s varsity tennis teams in the country at 15 campus sites.
The 15 men’s teams that win both matches this weekend will be invited to play in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships Feb. 12-15 at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va. Virginia will serve as the event’s host.
INTRODUCING THE TEAMS
No. 3 Ohio State is one of four teams in the Top 65 of the latest Campbell/ITA Division I College Tennis Rankings competing this weekend for an invitation to the field of 16 at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va.
The three teams traveling to Columbus this weekend are No. 30 Notre Dame, No. 35 Tulsa and No. 51 New Mexico.
In the first match, Ohio State will face New Mexico at 10 a.m. Saturday, while Notre Dame battles Tulsa at 1 p.m. Two matches are guaranteed and the winners/losers will play each other in the second matches Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. The championship match is scheduled for a 12:30 p.m. start.
THE TOURNAMENT HISTORY
The ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship is the ITA’s longest running national championship, which dates back to the 1973 season. Stanford has won the most titles at this event with 12 and is followed by UCLA with seven. From 1990-2002, Stanford and UCLA claimed every ITA National Team Indoor title; however, four different programs – Illinois, Baylor, Georgia and Virginia – have been crowned champions in the last six years. The team that has reached the final has gone on to win the NCAA crown 15 times since 1973.
The Buckeyes hold an 8-8 all-time record in the tournament, winning all eight matches the past three seasons. Ohio State is the 2007 and ’08 ITA National Team Indoors Championship runners-up.
As the No. 3 seed in the championships in 2008, Ohio State advanced to its second-consecutive final by beating defending national champion and second-seed Georgia, 4-1, at the Nordstrom Tennis Center in Seattle, Wash. Feb. 17. The Scarlet and Gray lost to No. 1 seed Virginia, 4-1, in the finals. In 2007, the Buckeyes fell to Georgia, 4-0, in the finals in Chicago, Ill.
A LOOK BACK
During the 2008-09 campaign, Ohio State advanced to its third-consecutive quarterfinal match at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships at the Midtown Tennis Club in Chicago, Feb. 13-15. In the opening round as the No. 1 seed, the Buckeyes defeated No. 20 Pepperdine, 4-2.
Against No. 8 Tennessee in quarterfinal action, Ohio State dropped a 4-3 decision, giving the Buckeyes their first loss of the season. Ohio State owned an early 2-0 lead over the Volunteers, but lost four singles matches to be eliminated from the main draw of the tournament. The loss against Tennessee was only one of two defeats the Buckeyes suffered the entire season.
In the consolation match, Ohio State swept No. 4 seed UCLA, 4-0. The win against the Bruins marked the first victory for the Scarlet Gray against a Top 5 opponent for the 2009 season.
A STRONG START
Ohio State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) began its dual season last week winning its first two matches. The Buckeyes defeated both Butler and Xavier, 7-0, Jan. 20 in a dual doubleheader at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center. The team improved to 22-0 on the opening day of the season under 11th-year head coach Ty Tucker. The two home wins also extend the Ohio State home winning streak to 91-consecutive matches dating back to the 2003 season.
BUCKEYES RECEIVE HIGH RANKING
Ohio State is No. 3 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings announced Tuesday. Guided by 11th-year head coach Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes have now been ranked in the Top 25 in the ITA rankings for 10-consecutive years.
The three years prior to the 2009-10 season, Ohio State has earned a preseason ranking of No. 3 or higher and finished third behind Georgia and Virginia in 2007 and ’08. In 2009, the Buckeyes received a No. 1 preseason ranking, the first in program history, and finished second in the NCAA Championships.
Ohio State is 39-2 (.951) when ranked No. 3.
LOOKING GOOD EARLY
Ohio State has never lost its first match of the season under head coach Ty Tucker. The former Buckeye owns an opening-day record of 22-0 since taking over the helm 11 years ago (The Buckeyes traditionally play two matches on opening day).
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Ohio State is a combined 25-28 against the three visiting teams competing this weekend. The Buckeyes are 24-26 all-time against Notre Dame and 1-2 all-time vs. New Mexico.
Ohio State has never faced Tulsa.
The Buckeyes last met Notre Dame last season in Columbus, winning 7-0 at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center. The Scarlet and Gray have won three-consecutive meetings against the Fighting Irish. Under head coach Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes are 6-4 against Notre Dame.
Ohio State last met New Mexico during the 1997-98 season, losing 4-3 to the Lobos. The Buckeyes’ only win against New Mexico came during the 1988-89 campaign, a 7-2 win.
THE NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
No. 30 Notre Dame is 2-1. The Fighting Irish earned a close 4-3 victory against William & Mary in their 2010 season opener. Notre Dame is now 15-8 in season openers under head coach Bobby Bayliss. Last Sunday, the squad spilt a pair of home matches. In their first match, they dropped a 7-4 decision to second-ranked Virginia, but rebounded with a 7-0 shutout over IUPUI in the evening match.
Last year, the Irish posted a 13-13 record and appeared in the NCAA Championships field for the 18th time in the last 19 seasons, making them one of just 11 schools to have accomplished that feat. The Buckeyes will travel to Notre Dame April 7 for a dual match.
THE TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANES
Thirty-fifth-ranked Tulsa is 5-1 to begin the 2010 season. The team opened the season with a 7-0 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and a 6-1 victory against Oral Roberts Jan. 14 at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center. Tulsa followed with its third-consecutive win in a dramatic 4-3 victory against No. 68 SMU. Freshman Alastair Barnes claimed the match for the Golden Hurricanes after winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 at No. 3 singles. The team suffered its first loss of the season after losing 6-1 to No. 40 California Jan. 17. The Hurricanes bounced back from its defeat against the Bears with wins against Memphis Jan. 22 and No. 37 South Florida Jan. 23.
Last season, Tulsa finished with a 22-10 overall record, going a perfect 6-0 in Conference USA play. The squad has won four-consecutive conference titles. The Buckeyes are 1-1 against teams from Conference USA under 11th-year head coach Ty Tucker.
THE NEW MEXICO LOBOS
The No. 51 New Mexico men’s tennis team comes into the ITA Team Indoor qualifier with a 1-0 record. The Lobos defeated No. 59 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7-0, Jan. 23.
UNM has five players with at least nine wins in singles including Phil Anderson (9-6), Conor Berg (9-6), Joe Wood (9-5), Carl Ho (10-4) and Jadon Phillips (9-5).
The Lobos finished the 2008-09 campaign with a 20-6 overall record. The team hit the 20-win mark for the second-consecutive season and clinched the Mountain West Conference championship. The Lobos posted their best winning percentage since the 1984 season, and with a 15-2 start, their best record through 17 matches since 1968, finishing their campaign ranked 45th nationally.
HOME SWEET HOME
Ohio State extended its home winning streak to 91 after winning its opening matches against Butler and Xavier Jan. 20. No other Big Ten team in any sport has won as many consecutive-games at home than the Buckeyes. The Scarlet and Gray won its 16 home competitions last season, marking the sixth-consecutive year the Buckeyes won all their home matches. The home winning streak dates back to the 2003 season, starting with a 5-2 victory over Purdue April 6.
KRONAUGE, O’CONNELL TO LEAD BUCKEYES
Seniors Justin Kronauge and Mike O’Connell were named 2009-10 team captains, head coach Ty Tucker announced.
A 2008 ITA All-American and two-time Big Ten honoree (2008, ’09), Kronauge returns for his final season with the most singles and doubles wins of any active member on the team. In three seasons with Ohio State, Kronauge has claimed 116 singles wins and 98 doubles victories.
O’Connell, a native of Holland Ohio, returns for his final year as a doubles specialist for the Buckeyes. After undergoing left shoulder surgery at the end of the summer, O’Connell will look to be healthy and ready to defend another Big Ten title. O’Connell has a career doubles record of 32-14 and 17-9 in dual play. Traditionally partnered with junior Matt Allare, the Buckeye duo is 16-9 overall in two seasons.
KRONAUGE CLIMBS SINGLES, DOUBLES CHARTS
Senior Justin Kronauge won two singles and two doubles matches in the home opener doubleheader against Butler and Xavier Jan. 20 to continue his rise in the record books for career singles and doubles wins. In singles, Kronauge has 116 career victories, which is tied for fifth on the all-time career singles wins list with former Buckeye Devin Mullings (2003-07). In doubles, Kronauge is two wins shy of becoming the sixth Buckeye in school history to hit the 100-win mark.
Kronauge is currently third on the all-time combined career wins list with 214 victories. Former Buckeyes Bryan Koniecko and Steven Moneke are first and second, respectively, with 254 and 247 victories.
MARCAN CLAIMS FIRST BIG TEN WEEKLY HONOR
Freshman Dino Marcan was named Big Ten Player of the Week the conference announced Jan. 19. This is Marcan’s first-career weekly laurel. As a team last season, the Buckeyes collected a league-high eight Big Ten Player of the Week honors.
Marcan participated, along with three other Buckeye members, at the Boilermaker Invitational Jan. 16-17 at the Schwartz Tennis Center in West Lafayette, Ind. Marcan, a native of Rijeka, Croatia, was announced the tournament winner with four singles and three doubles victories. The Buckeyes went undefeated during the invitational, going a combined 18-0 in singles and doubles.
In singles, Marcan made his Buckeye debut at No. 1 singles and defeated Alex Das of Eastern Kentucky 6-2, 6-3. Marcan followed with a 6-4, 6-2 win against Kazuya Komada of Western Michigan. He then faced his first career Big Ten opponent in P.J. Rose of Purdue and beat him in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. Marcan wrapped up the event with another straight-set triumph, downing Adam Whitmer of Valparaiso, 6-1, 6-3.
In doubles, Marcan paired with junior Balazs Novak and went 3-0 at No. 1. The Buckeye duo won two matches during day one of the invitational, defeating Eric Ramos and Rose, 8-6, and Tom Litscher and Kyle Stump of Valparaiso, 8-2. Marcan and Novak finished out the weekend downing Zeyad Montasser and Komada of Western Michigan, 8-3.
Marcan, who took up the game at the age of 4, peaked as high as 24th in the world in the combined junior rankings at the beginning of last year.
LAITTA NAMED AN ASSISTANT
Jim Laitta joined Ohio State during the summer of 2009 after 19 years of head coaching experience of the men’s and women’s programs at Maryland.
As the head coach for the women’s program from 1990-2001, Laitta coached the squad to its first NCAA appearance in 1996. Laitta later was named Atlantic Coast Conference and ITA East Region Coach of the Year. Maryland followed that unprecedented season with trips to the NCAA tournament in 1998 and 1999. He also mentored the No. 1 doubles teams to NCAA showings in 1998 and 1999, while in 1999 guided the No. 1 singles player in All-ACC honoree Meg Griffin to the national event.
Beginning in 2001, Laitta began working exclusively with the men’s team and coached All-Americans Andy Orban and Boris Fetbroyt. The program was the recipient of the President’s Cup Award, which goes to the squad that has the highest grade point average among Maryland’s male sports teams in 2002, ’03, ’05 and ’07.
Prior to joining Maryland, Laitta was the women’s head coach at Mississippi State from 1988-1990. In his second season, he coached the Bulldogs’ doubles team of Claire Pollard and Jackie Holden to the 1989 NCAA title.
Laitta is a lifetime member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and a member of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Eastern Kentucky in 1988.
JOINING THE TEAM
The Buckeyes added three members to the roster in 2009-10. Freshmen Dino Marcan, Peter Kobelt and Wyatt Lippert will add depth to the talented Buckeye lineup.
Marcan, a native of Rijeka, Croatia, made his Buckeye debut at the Boilermaker Invitational Jan. 16-17 in West Lafayette, Ind. He went 4-0 in singles and 3-0 in doubles en route to being announced the tournament winner. Marcan, who took up the game at the age of 4, peaked as high as 24th in the world in the combined junior rankings at the beginning of last year.
Kobelt, a high school classmate of sophomore Chase Buchanan, was ranked in the Top 70 in the U.S. Seniors standings. He won the national title in the 18s Advanced Junior Team Tennis championship. In the spring of 2008, Kobelt was a Division I Ohio High School Athletics Association state tournament singles finalist.
Lippert, who was ranked 30th in the U.S. for Seniors, was the 2008 Division I Ohio High School Athletics Association Champion at Lakota West in Cincinnati. He was the 2008 Huntington Bank Ohio High School Magazine Boys Tennis Player of the Year and in 2007 was ranked No. 22 in the USTA national rankings for boys 16s.
The Buckeyes return to The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center against Pepperdine at 5 p.m. Feb. 5 and North Carolina at 12 p.m. Feb. 7.