Scarlet and Gray enters 2009 season ranked No. 1 in nation

COLUMBUS, Ohio The preseason No. 1 Ohio State men’ tennis team opens its 2009 dual season hosting a doubleheader vs. Butler and Xavier at noon and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, respectively, at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center.

Ohio State defeated Butler and Xavier a year ago, each by a score of 7-0, its home court. The Buckeyes look to repeat their success when they meet the Bulldogs and Musketeers.

The Scarlet and Gray opens the 2009 season ranked No. 1 in the ITA NCAA Division I rankings announced Jan. 6. The top ranking is the first in Ohio State program history. In addition, the squad becomes the first Ohio State program to earn a No. 1 preseason ranking since the Buckeye football team received the honor in 2006.

Under 10th-year head coach Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes have now ranked in the Top 20 in the ITA rankings for five-consecutive years. For the past two seasons, Ohio State has earned a preseason ranking of No. 3 and finished third behind Georgia and Virginia both in 2007 and 08. Previous to that, the Buckeyes ranked 5th in 2006 and 24th in 2005.

Ohio State has never lost its first match of the season under Ty Tucker. The former Buckeye owns an opening-day record of 18-0 since taking over the helm 10 years ago. (The Buckeyes traditionally play two matches on the opening day of the season.)

Butler is 0-1 so far this season after dropping a 7-0 match to Big Ten Conference member Northwestern Sunday in Evanston, Ill. The Bulldogs finished the 2008-09 season with a 13-12 dual meet record and captured third place in the Horizon League Championship with a 4-0 victory over Green Bay April 27, 2008.

The Buckeyes are one of five Big Ten teams that Butler faces on its 2009 schedule in dual play. The Bulldogs opened their season vs. Northwestern Sunday on the road before travelling to Columbus for a matchup vs. Ohio State Wednesday. The team then plays Wisconsin Jan. 24, Purdue Feb. 1 and Indiana March 1.

Ohio State owns the all-time series lead against Butler, 9-0. The teams last met a year ago in Columbus where the Buckeyes claimed a 7-0 victory.

Ohio State holds a perfect 20-0 all-time record against teams from the Horizon League. The Buckeyes are 9-0 vs. Butler, 4-0 vs. Detroit, 4-0 vs. Cleveland State and 1-0 vs. Youngstown State.

Xavier lost to Florida Atlantic, 5-2, Jan. 9. The Musketeers open Atlantic 10 Conference play against St. Louis Feb. 20 in St. Louis, Mo. Xavier finished 2007-08 with an overall record of 16-9 and finished 6-1 in the A-10. The Musketeers swept No. 1-seed George Washington, 4-0, in the title match of the 2008 Atlantic 10 Men’s Tennis Championship at Club 4 Life in Monroeville, Pa., to garner the program’s first A-10 tournament title since they joined the league in the 1995-96 season.

Ohio State holds a 6-0 record against Xavier. The teams last met in Columbus on the opening day of last season. The Buckeyes won 7-0.

Ohio State has a 14-3 record against teams from the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Buckeyes are 5-2 vs. Dayton, 3-1 vs. George Washington and 6-0 vs. Xavier.

Ohio State is the only team to have three student-athletes ranked in the Top 10 of the ITA NCAA Division I singles rankings announced Jan. 6.

In singles, the Buckeyes sit among the best collegiate talent in the nation as Bryan Koniecko ranks No. 1, while classmate Steven Moneke and junior Justin Kronauge rank Nos. 3 and 6, respectively. Koniecko becomes the first Buckeye in the top singles seed since Ohio State assistant coach Jeremy Wurtzman (2002-04) in 2004. This ranking comes after Koniecko won both the 2008 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships and the Wilson/ITA Midwest Regional crowns with teammate Kronauge receiving runner-up honors at both.

In addition, sophomores Balazs Novak ranks No. 38 and Shuhei Uzawa sits at No. 77.

In doubles, Moneke and Novak rank No. 11 as the top Buckeye doubles tandem. Koniecko and Kronauge pair at No. 31, while Novak and Mike O’Connell rank No. 41.

The Buckeyes have won a school-record 73-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 fifth-consecutive year the team achieved perfection at home. The home win streak began in 2003 with a 5-2 victory over Purdue April 6.

The Buckeyes are coming off a record-setting 2007-08 campaign, setting several school records. The Scarlet and Gray posted impressive marks, including most wins in a single season (35), longest dual match win streak (23) and best single-season winning percentage (.946).

For the third-consecutive year, Ohio State was crowned the Big Ten regular season and tournament champions. En route to their third-straight title, the Buckeyes went 10-0 during regular season league play.

Ty Tucker won Big Ten Coach of the year honors, while Bryan Koniecko was awarded player of the year. Additionally, Koniecko, along with Steven Moneke and Justin Kronauge were tabbed All-Big Ten honorees. Shortly thereafter, the trio, along with Drew Eberly, earned All-America honors, marking the first time in program history four Buckeyes were granted the coveted status in the same season.

The Buckeyes finished the team portion of its schedule in the NCAA team quarterfinals with only two losses for the third-consecutive year.

Ohio State travels to Seattle, Wash., Jan. 25 for a 3 p.m. match against the Washington Huskies. The Buckeyes then return to Columbus to play Mississippi at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center.