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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The four-time defending Big Ten champion Ohio State men’ tennis team will begin the 2010 dual campaign with a home doubleheader against Butler and Xavier at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday, respectively, at the Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center.

The Buckeyes have now opened their schedule against the Bulldogs and Musketeers for four-consecutive seasons. Ohio State is 6-0 and has not allowed a point against either squad in the past three doubleheaders.

BUCKEYES RECEIVE HIGH RANKING
Ohio State opens the 2010 season polled No. 3 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings announced Jan. 5. 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.  

As the third-ranked team in the country, Ohio State is 37-2 (.949) when polled at the No. 3 position.

BUCKEYES RANKED IN THE POLLS
Three Buckeyes in the Top 125 of the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings.

In singles, junior Shuhei Uzawa, a native of Chiba, Japan, is No. 34, while sophomore Steven Williams is No. 88. Sophomore Chase Buchanan rounds out the Buckeyes at No. 103.

Uzawa went 6-4 in singles during the fall season after recording a career single-season high in wins during his sophomore year with 25 victories. Williams, a native of Manlius, N.Y., was 6-3 during the fall after going 5-2 overall in singles during his first season with the Buckeyes. Buchanan was 4-3 during the autumn schedule and now has 15 career singles wins since joining the team in early March last season.

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 20-0 since taking over the helm 11 years ago (The Buckeyes traditionally play two matches on opening day.

BUTLER BULLDOGS
Butler will start its 2010 schedule against the Buckeyes. The Bulldogs finished the 2008-09 campaign with a 12-13 overall record. The team finished third in the Horizon League championship and had a 5-2 conference record.

Senior Ben Raynauld started 19 of 25 matches last year at No. 1 singles and had a strong doubles game, finishing with a 16-12 record. Junior Bryce Warren was named to the first team All-Horizon League last year, completing his second season with a 19-15 singles record. Junior Brandon Bayliss, who was named to the All-Horizon League Second Team, finished tied for the team lead with 19 victories in singles. Bayliss had 15 singles wins in dual meets, which were the most wins in dual play by any Bulldog a season ago.

The matchup vs. the Buckeyes is the first of five Big Ten meets for Butler. The Bulldogs will face Wisconsin Jan. 23, Purdue Jan. 24, Indiana Feb. 6 and Michigan State March 6.

OHIO STATE VS. BUTLER
Ohio State leads the all-time series against Butler, 10-0. The teams met a year ago in Columbus where the Buckeyes claimed a 7-0 victory.

AGAINST THE HORIZON LEAGUE
Ohio State owns a perfect 20-0 all-time record against teams from the Horizon League. The Buckeyes are 10-0 vs. Butler, 4-0 vs. Detroit, 5-0 vs. Cleveland State and 1-0 vs. Youngstown State. Under head coach Ty Tucker, Ohio State is 19-0 against opponents from the Horizon League.

XAVIER MUSKETEERS
Xavier opens up its season in Columbus. The Musketeers begin Atlantic 10 Conference play against St. Joseph’s Feb. 5 in Philadelphia, Pa. Xavier finished 2008-09 with an overall record of 17-8 and finished 5-1 in the A-10. The Musketeers won its second-consecutive league title after defeating St. Bonaventure, 4-0, in the title match of the 2009 Atlantic 10 Men’s Tennis Championship at Club 4 Life in Monroeville, Pa. Xavier finished its season in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament against the Buckeyes. Ohio State defeated Xavier, 4-0, May 7 in Columbus.

Senior Chris Herrlinger earned Atlantic 10 Second Team All-Conference honors, going 12-12 in singles and 15-8 in doubles during dual action. Junior Bobby Deye posted a team-high 18 wins in dual meets, going 18-5 overall last year en route to being named to the Atlantic 10 Second Team.

OHIO STATE VS. XAVIER
Ohio State holds an 8-0 record against Xavier. The Buckeyes have garnered every victory against the Musketeers under head coach Ty Tucker.

OHIO STATE VS. ATLANTIC 10
Ohio State has a 16-3 record against teams from the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Buckeyes are 5-2 against Dayton, 3-1 vs. George Washington and 8-0 vs. Xavier. Under Ty Tucker, Ohio State has never lost to a team from the Atlantic 10 Conference, going 9-0.

HOME SWEET HOME
The Buckeyes have won a school-record 89-consecutive home matches dating back to the 2002-03 season. No other Big Ten team in any sport has won as many games in a row at home than the Buckeyes. The Scarlet and Gray won all 16 home competitions last season, marking the sixth-consecutive year the team achieved perfection at home. The home win streak began in 2003 with a 5-2 victory over Purdue April 6.

2010 ITA KICK-OFF WEEKEND
As part of the kick-off to the 2010 season, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association will have a nation-wide weekend event Jan. 29-Feb. 1. Ohio State will serve as one of 15 host sites in the nation with Tulsa, Notre Dame and New Mexico traveling to Columbus. No. 1 Ohio State will face No. 4 New Mexico, while No. 2 Tulsa takes on No. 3 Notre Dame. Two matches are guaranteed with the winners/loser playing the following day. The 15 schools that win both of their matches will be invited to play in the Feb. 12-15 ITA National Team Indoor Championships at the Boar’s Head Sports Club hosted by University of Virginia.

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 111 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 30-14 and 17-9 in dual play. Traditionally partnered with junior Matt Allare, the Buckeye duo is 16-9 overall in two seasons.

LAST TIME OUT
Four members of the Ohio State men’s tennis team went undefeated at the Boilermaker Invitational last Saturday and Sunday at the Schwartz Tennis Center in West Lafayette, Ind. Freshman Dino Marcan was the tournament winner with four singles and three doubles victories.  

Senior co-captain Mike O’Connell, junior Balazs Novak, sophomore Steven Williams and Marcan stayed perfect in both singles and doubles play through two days, facing members of the Valparaiso, Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan and Purdue squads.

The Buckeyes were a combined 13-0 in singles and 5-0 in doubles action. In addition to Marcan, Novak and Williams also claimed a 4-0 record in singles, winning two matches both Saturday and Sunday.

Marcan, a native of Rijeka, Croatia, 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. Marcan 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.

Novak, who was 36-6 last season, had a strong showing to start off his third year at Ohio State. Novak began the event defeating Hugo Klientovsky of Eastern Kentucky 6-1, 6-2, while following with a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Pablo Olivarez of Western Michigan in his second match. After dropping the first set in his third match, Novak forced a third-set tiebreaker against Slavko Bijelica of Purdue, winning 3-6, 6-2, 1-0 (11).

Williams won four-consecutive matches at No. 3 singles. After winning his opening match, the native of Manlius, N.Y., made a strong comeback against Casey Cullen of Western Michigan in the second session of singles play and won 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (4).

O’Connell claimed his only singles win against Nik Schroeder of Eastern Kentucky. O’Connell dropped the opening set, 6-0, but countered to force a third-set tiebreaker and won 0-6, 6-4, 1-0 (5).

In doubles, Marcan and Novak went 3-0 at No. 1. The Buckeye duo won two matches during day one of the invitational, defeating Rose and Ramos, 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.

O’Connell, a doubles specialist, paired with Williams during day one. The two Buckeyes defeated Thomas Wilson and Bijelica of Purdue, 8-6, in the opening match. The Buckeye pair followed with an 8-1 win against Kevin DeHerrera and Whitmer of Valparaiso.

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 at the end of the season. 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.

YEAR IN REVIEW
Arguably one of the most anticipated years in the history of the program, the 2008-09 Buckeyes seemed to have all the parts for the formula of success. Developing some of the best talent in the nation for the past three seasons guided 10th-year head coach Ty Tucker, the team continued to pile up win after win, breaking multiple program records and advancing to its first national championship in school history. 

Although the Buckeyes fell short of their first national championship crown after dropping a 4-1 decision to the Trojans of USC in the 2009 NCAA Championships title match at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas, the national runners-up showed the tennis community that Ohio State will be a force for years to come.

The Buckeyes (36-2; 10-0) completed the campaign with the program’s highest ranking in school history at No. 2 in the Men’s Division I Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings. Ohio State compiled a list of team and individual school records including most wins in program history with 36, set the program record for longest dual-match winning streak at 28 and recorded the best winning percentage in team history (.947).