April 9, 1999
COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the third time in its last five matches, the Ohio State Buckeyes played one of the top teams in the Big Ten down to the wire but came up inches short. This time it was No. 34 Northwestern who pulled it out in the end, winning 4-3 Friday evening at the Jesse Owens West Recreation Center. OSUs record drops to 6-14 (0-7 Big Ten) while the Wildcats improve to 8-7 (3-2).
The match, originally scheduled to be played outdoors at the Stickney Tennis Center, was moved inside because of rain. The switch in venues inside didn’t faze Northwestern, however, who came out smoking, taking all three doubles matches for an early 1-0 lead. The Wildcats padded their lead when No. 69 Doug Bohaboy defeated No. 79 Chris Porter (So., Canton, Ohio) in straight sets at No. 1 singles.
But that’s when the Buckeyes started to make a stand. Kevin Hawke (Fr., Brielle, N.J.) easily disposed of Northwestern’s Martin Bengtsson 6-3, 6-4 to cut the lead to 2-1, NU. The win was a small measure of revenge for Hawke, who lost to Bengtsson 6-2, 6-4 Nov. 11 at the Region IV Championships in East Lansing, Mich.
With the score 2-1, Nos. 2 and 4 singles were getting tense. Andrew Carlson (So., Gambrills, Md.) was on serve late in the third set at No. 2 singles while Derek DeFalco (So., Maumee, Ohio) was just beginning his third set at No. 4 singles after the first two sets went into tiebreakers. Carlson and his opponent, Derrick Nguyen, traded big serve after big serve on the fast indoor courts and found themselves deadlocked at 6-6, meaning a tiebreaker would decide the match. Carlson jumped out to an early 4-2 lead only to have Nguyen come back and tie it at 4-4. After the two players traded off points to make it 5-5, Carlson came up big and picked up a mini-break to garner a match point at 6-5. He didn’t waste any time, converting his first match point to tie the team score at 2-2.
Meanwhile, DeFalco and his opponent, Brad Erickson, were involved in a epic battle. After Erickson won the first set 7-6, DeFalco came back and registered a tiebreak win of his own in the second. The two players battled deep into the third set and found themselves in another tiebreaker, this one to decide the match and give a big momentum boost to the winner. Unlike at No. 2, however, the Buckeyes couldn’t quite pull out a victory, as DeFalco fell behind a mini-break early and couldnt recover, losing 7-5 in the third set tiebreaker. Northwestern’s win at No. 4 singles made the score 3-2.
The match was far from over, however. After the Wildcats took the 3-2 team score lead, Ben Basil (Sr., Upper Arlington, Ohio) was ahead 1-0 in the third set against NU’s Joost Hol at No. 5 singles. At No. 6, the only other remaining match, Bob Wellstein (So., Perrysberg, Ohio) was down a set but ahead in the second against a visibly fatigued Jamie Sahara. It appeared as if Wellstein was getting the upper hand on Sahara as the match went longer and longer, with the OSU sixth singles player winning the second set to force a third. However, as Wellstein was forcing the third set, Basil was down a break late in his third set.
Northwestern’s fortunes took a turn for the better at No. 5 singles with the score 4-3 in the third set. In that game, Hol and Basil were involved in a 15-minute, multiple deuce game in which both players had several opportunities to win the game. But when Basil netted a forehand on game point, Hol took a 5-3 lead. The OSU senior who has come through so many times for the Buckeyes this season was simply not up to the task, however, as Hol stepped up and hit three outright winners to break Basil and win the match for the Wildcats.
Immediately after Northwestern’s clinching victory, Sahara retired at No. 6 singles, making the final score 4-3 Northwestern.
Ohio State will take Saturday off to recover from this match and get ready for perhaps its toughest opponent of the season, the second-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini, Sunday. The match is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Stickney Tennis Center. In case of inclement weather, the match will move to the Jesse Owens West Recreation Center on the southwest corner of Kenny and Carmack.
Northwestern 4 Ohio State 3
No. 1 – No. 40 Bohaboy/Bengtsson, Northwestern def. Carlson/Hawke, Ohio State 8-6
No. 2 – Erickson/Hol, Northwestern def. Basil/DeFalco, Ohio State 8-2
No. 3 – Nguyen/Sahara, Northwestern def. Porter/Wellstein, Ohio State 8-5
No. 1 – No. 69 Doug Bohaboy, Northwestern def. No. 79 Chris Porter, Ohio State 7-5, 6-0
No. 2 – Andrew Carlson, Ohio State def. Derrick Nguyen, Northwestern 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5)
No. 3 – Kevin Hawke, Ohio State def. Martin Bengtsson, Northwestern 6-3, 6-4
No. 4 – Brad Erickson, Northwestern def. Derek DeFalco, Ohio State 7-6 (3), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5)
No. 5 – Joost Hol, Northwestern def. Ben Basil, Ohio State 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
No. 6 – Bob Wellstein, Ohio State def. Jamie Sahara, Northwestern 7-5, 3-6, 2-2 retired
Northwestern – 8-7, 3-2 Big Ten
Ohio State – 6-14, 0-7 Big Ten
Time of Match: 4:39