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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 4 Ohio State men’s tennis team is one of 15 schools set to host the qualifying rounds of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships Saturday and Sunday at the Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center. The event will showcase the Top 60 men’s varsity tennis teams in the country at 15 campus sites.

The team that wins both of its matches in Columbus this weekend will be invited to play in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship Feb. 18-21. The University of Washington will serve as hosts.

Schedule of Play:  
Sat. – 10 a.m. (Ohio State vs. William & Mary)
Sat. – 2 p.m. (UC Irvine vs. South Carolina)
Sun.  – 10 a.m. (Consolation)
Sun. – 1 p.m. (Championship)

After the conclusion of the ITA Kickoff event, the Buckeyes will host in-state opponent Toledo at 6 p.m.

INTRODUCING THE ITA KICK-OFF EVENT TEAMS
No. 4 Ohio State joins the other three teams travelling to Columbus as being ranked in the Top 75 of the latest Campbell/ITA Division I College Tennis Rankings. The visiting teams are No. 56 UC Irvine, No. 69 South Carolina and No. 75 William & Mary.

In the first match, Ohio State will face William & Mary at 10 a.m. Saturday, while UC Irvine will battle South Carolina at 2 p.m. Two matches are guaranteed and the winners/losers will play each other Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. The championship match is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.

Ohio State holds a 1-4 mark against the Gamecocks, with the lone 4-0 victory occurring in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament. UC Irvine and William & Mary have each lost to the Buckeyes once in their respective histories.

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 the 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 are 10-9 all-time in the tournament, winning all 10 matches the past four seasons. Ohio State is the 2007 and ’08 ITA National Team Indoors Championship runners-up.

A LOOK BACK
During the 2009-10 season, the No. 2 Buckeyes advanced to the semifinals  the team indoor championships at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va. It was the fourth-consecutive season Ohio State advanced to at least the quarterfinals of the event.
Ohio State lost, 4-1, to No. 6 Virginia in the semifinals giving the Buckeyes their first loss of the season. In the quarterfinals of the event, the Scarlet and Gray won four-consecutive singles matches to defeat No. 12 Florida, 4-3. No. 16 Louisville was dealt a 4-2 loss in the first round at the hands of Ohio State.

OPENER RECAP
For the fifth-consecutive season and sixth out of the last seven, the Scarlet and Gray defeated Butler and Xavier this past Wednesday on opening day of the 100th season of men’s tennis at Ohio State. The Buckeyes improved to 12-0 against Butler and 10-0 vs. the Musketeers. In all, Ohio State is now 24-0 on the opening day of the season under 12th-year head coach Ty Tucker.

FRESHMAN FIRST
Freshman Ille Van Engelen recorded his first collegiate singles victory against Chris Herron from Butler, 6-2, 6-3. Van Engelen, a native of the Netherlands also collecting his first doubles win as a Buckeye. Partnering with fellow freshman Blaz Rola, the duo defeated the Bulldog team of Brandon Bayliss and Lenz Theodor, 8-4.

VICK-TASTIC
Redshirt-freshman Nelson Vick continued his winning ways in the annual season-opener with Butler and Xavier. Vick, who won the Big Ten Indoor Singles Championship in October, extended his current singles winning streak to eight matches. Vick downed Butler’s David Dolins in straight-sets, 6-0, 6-0. The Grafton, Wis., native also was victorious against Brian Starr of Xavier, 6-3, 6-2.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The Buckeyes are a combined 3-4 vs. the three visiting teams that are competing this weekend in Columbus. Ohio State is 1-4 all-time against South Carolina and own 1-0 series lead vs. UC Irvine and William & Mary. The lone win vs. South Carolina came in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

UC IRVINE ANTEATERS
No. 56 UC Irvine travels to Columbus 0-2 on the young season. The Anteaters opened  their schedule with a trip to Lubbock, Texas, but came away with a 5-2 loss at the hands of Texas Tech even after sweeping doubles. UC Irvine lost another 5-2 decision to No. 21 Pepperdine Jan. 23.

Fabian Matthews and Steven Henderson are the two Anteaters that have double-figure wins in singles play. Matthews is 4-5 as the No. 1 singles player and 10-9 overall. Henderson is 11-8 overall.

UC Irvine finished the 2009-10 season with an overall record of 17-12. They defeated Cal Poly in the Big West tournament final to become conference champions. After drawing Cal in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Anteaters lost to the Golden Bears, 4-0.

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
The Gamecocks have played all three of their matches so far on the season at home. They enter the tournament with a 1-2 overall record. South Carolina defeated Wofford, 6-1, on opening day, but had two setbacks against Elon (2-5) and Georgia Tech (6-1).

Junior Ivan Machado is the returning player with the most wins from last season. Machado was 13-17 in singles play and 17-14 in doubles.

South Carolina finished the 2009-10 campaign 9-13 overall and 1-10 in the SEC.

WILLIAM & MARY TRIBE
The Tribe enters the event this weekend with a 5-2 overall record. William & Mary have three 7-0 shutouts on the year against Richmond, Morgan State and Villanova. Their other two wins have been by a score of 6-1 to Winthrop and James Madison.

Both the Tribe’s losses have come at the hands of ranked teams. No. 36 Notre Dame defeated the Green and Gold, 6-1, while No. 1 Virginia also downed William & Mary.

The Tribe boasts three players who have earned at least four dual-match singles wins on the season. Anton Andersson, Sebastien Vidal and Adrian Vodislav are each 4-2 on the year.
 
William & Mary wrapped up the 2009-10 men’s tennis season finishing 20-10 overall and an undefeated 4-0 in the CAA.

TOLEDO ROCKETS
The Buckeyes and Rockets have met 28 times on the courts with Ohio State winning all but two of the meetings. Last season in Columbus, Ohio State shut out Toledo, 5-0. It was the fifth-consecutive season the Rockets have been shut out at the hands of the Buckeyes. Ohio State enters tonight’s match 94-24-1 against the MAC all-time.

Toledo went 13-15 last season with a 3-4 record in the MAC.

BUCKEYES EARN HIGH INAUGURAL RANKING
After finishing the 2010 season fifth in the nation, the 100th year of Ohio State men’s tennis will begin with the team ranked No. 4 in the first Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings of 2011. This is the 11th-consecutive year, head coach Ty Tucker has guided the Buckeyes to a Top 25 ITA ranking in the inaugural poll.

This season marks the fifth year in a row that Ohio State has had a ranking of No. 4 or higher. Last season, Ohio State was ranked No. 3 in the preseason and finished the season ranked fifth. In 2009, the Buckeyes received a No. 1 preseason ranking, the first in program history, on their way to a runner-up finish in the NCAA Championships. From 2006-08, Ohio State earned a preseason ranking of No. 3 or higher and finished third behind Georgia and Virginia in 2007 and ’08.

When polled as the No. 4 team in the country, Ohio State is 12-1 (.923).

BUCKEYES RANKED IN THE POLLS
Following an impressive fall campaign, freshman Blaz Rola was polled seventh by the ITA in the singles rankings. Rola, who is from Ptuj, Slovenia, joins four other Buckeyes ranked in the singles poll.

Senior Matt Allare sits comfortably at No. 34, while Junior and Cincinnati native, Devin McCarthy rounds out the Buckeyes that are ranked in the Top 50, coming in at No. 46. Junior Chase Buchanan is ranked as the 63rd-best singles player and redshirt freshman Nelson Vick rounds out the Buckeyes as No. 72.
Rola finished the fall campaign 13-2 in singles after finishing the season by winning three-consecutive matches before falling to No. 6 Steve Johnson of USC in the semifinals of the National Indoor Intercollegiate championships. Allare, a Mason, Ohio native, wrapped up the fall season going 9-2, while New Albany native, Chase Buchanan finished 5-3 in singles action. McCarthy concluded the autumn schedule 5-3, while Vick impressively finished 10-3.
In the doubles poll, Rola and Buchanan are the highest-rated Buckeye tandem at No. 6. The duo of Matt Allare and Peter Kobelt is No. 19, while senior Balazs Novak and Devin McCarthy are ranked 25th. Rounding out the doubles rankings for Ohio State are seniors Shuhei Uzawa and Allare, who is the only Buckeye to be ranked as a member of two different doubles teams.

DOMINANT IN COLUMBUS
The Buckeyes have won a school-record 112-consecutive home matches dating back to the 2002-03 season. In the Big Ten, no other team in any sport has won as many games in a row at home that the Buckeyes. Ohio State was victorious in all 21 home matches last season, marking the seventh-consecutive year the team achieved perfection in Columbus. The home win streak began on April, 6, 2003 with a 5-2 triumph over Purdue.

100th ANNIVERSARY OF TENNIS
The opener against Butler and Xavier will mark the 100th year of men’s tennis at Ohio State. The tennis program started in 1912 and after 99 years, the men’s tennis program has an overall record of 988-692-10 for a .585 winning percentage. Coach Tucker is the 11th coach in Ohio State history and with his winning percentage hovering around .850, he is the winningest coach in Buckeye tennis history.

SENIOR TRIO RETURNS
Ohio State returns three seniors who will be key starters in both the singles and doubles lineups this year. Matt Allare, Balazs Novak and Shuhei Uzawa have won a combined 244 singles matches in three full seasons with the Buckeyes. In 2010, each player claimed at least 20 wins. Tucker has seen these three develop as their confidence continues to grow each day in practice and this year is their time to lead by example.

Allare, a native of Mason, Ohio, was 25-5 overall in singles and 23-13 in doubles last season. When paired with Uzawa in doubles last year, the duo went 22-13 overall, which was tied for the team lead.

As for Novak, the native of Budapest, Hungary, picked up where he left off the previous two seasons, going 37-7 in singles and 37-3 in doubles, both team highs in 2010. During the season, Novak was an important contributor in the singles lineup with a combined 31-4 record at the Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6 positions.

Uzawa, a native of Chiba, Japan, although not as impressive as his sophomore campaign, still put together a good season. He was 20-16 in singles and  25-13 overall in doubles. In singles, Uzawa was perfect at No. 3 with a 4-0 mark and was 22-13 in doubles play when paired with Allare.

The trio has been so successful in the Big Ten, here is one final note: The three have combined for a career Big Ten singles record of 40-4.

CHALLENGING SCHEDULE
This year’s challenging schedule will prepare Ohio State for the postseason. 2010 NCAA tournament teams, Mississippi, Georgia, and LSU, who also finished in the Top 50 of the ITA poll last season, will make the trip to Columbus between Feb. 4 and 12.  Following those contests, the Buckeyes travel to North Carolina Feb. 15 to take on a Tar Heel team that was ranked 20th at the end of last season. In all, Ohio State will face 15 teams that finished ranked in the ITA Top 75 last year.

Beginning Feb. 18, the highly regarded ITA National Team Indoor Championships will take place in Seattle, Wash. Ohio State is one of 15 qualifying host sites for the National Team Indoor Championships, as it will host the ITA Kickoff Weekend at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Center Jan. 28-30. South Carolina, UC Irvine and William & Mary will compete with the Buckeyes in the qualifier.

Starting March 4, Ohio State will encounter a tough seven-game stretch on the road, including nonconference trips to Texas A&M, Pepperdine, and Kentucky. The last out-of-conference match takes place when the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame come to Columbus in the middle of Big Ten play April 13. The regular season concludes April 24 at home for the Buckeyes, when the finish conference play vs. Purdue. The Big Ten Championships will take place at Wisconsin April 28 through May 1, two weeks prior to NCAA Regionals, which runs May 14-15.

KRONAUGE NOW ASSISTANT COACH
After graduating from Ohio State last year, Justin Kronauge has decided to stay with the men’s tennis team but in a different capacity. After setting men’s tennis records of most singles wins (147), most doubles wins (133) and most overall wins (280) as a player from 2007-10, Kronauge will replace Jim Laitta as assistant coach for the Buckeyes starting this year.

YEAR IN REVIEW
Following a season that included a NCAA final appearance and the loss of two four-time All-Americans, the 2009-10 Ohio State men’s tennis team returned to the courts in the same dominating fashion. Under 11th-year head coach Ty Tucker, the team continued to pile up win after win, which included its fifth-consecutive trip to an NCAA quarterfinal match.

Although the No. 4 Buckeyes fell short of their ultimate goal after dropping a 4-0 decision to No. 5 USC in a rematch of the 2009 final at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., Ohio State showed the tennis community the program will continue to be a powerhouse for years to come.

The Buckeyes (35-2; 10-0) completed the campaign with a list of impressive statistics, both individual and team, including second in wins (35) and winning percentage (.946) with the 2007-08 season and the second-longest dual-match winning streak at 27 victories. Along with winning their fifth-consecutive Big Ten regular-season and tournament crowns, the team improved its remarkable home win streak to 110 consecutive wins, dating back to 2003.

UP NEXT
Ohio State will welcome their first of three-consecutive SEC schools, as they host No. 18 Mississippi at the Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center Friday, Feb. 4. The match begins at 5 p.m. Admission is free.