COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 1 Ohio State men’s tennis team is set to begin the 2009 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship against No. 20 Pepperdine at 4 p.m. ET Friday in a first-round match up at Midtown Tennis Club in Chicago.
The Scarlet and Gray defeated No. 63 Stetson Jan. 31 and No. 32 Virginia Tech Feb. 1 to advance to the 16-team championship main draw. For the past two-consecutive seasons, the Buckeyes (7-0) have advanced to the final of the championship and will look to make another deep run in the tournament as the No. 1 seed for the first time in program history.
Live updates of the first round match against Pepperdine and the rest of this weekend’s championships action will be available on the official website of the 2009 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championships at www.itatennis.com or www.fightingillini.com.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS
The 15 other schools Ohio State is competing against in the main draw are the top collegiate teams in the nation. Of the 15 No. 1 seeds in the Kick-Off competition of the tournament qualifiers, 14 have advanced with an opportunity to capture the elusive national team indoor championship title. Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio State, Pepperdine, Southern Cal, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, Tulsa and UCLA join host Illinois and defending champion Virginia. The Top 13 teams of the latest ITA NCAA Men’s Division I rankings announced Feb. 10 are competing this weekend along with No. 16 Florida State, No. 18 Michigan and No. 20 Pepperdine.
THE TOURNAMENT HISTORY
The ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship is the ITA’s longest running national championship, dating back to 1973. 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. A team that has reached the final has gone on to win the NCAA crown 15 times since 1973.
The Buckeyes hold a 6-7 all-time record in the tournament, winning all six matches the past two seasons.
A LOOK BACK
The Buckeyes are the 2007 and ’08 ITA National Team Indoors Championship runner-ups. As the No. 3 seed in the championship last year, Ohio State advanced to its second-consecutive final by beating defending national champion and second-seeded Georgia, 4-1, at the Nordstrom Tennis Center Feb. 17 in Seattle, Wash. The Scarlet and Gray lost to No. 1 seed Virginia, 4-1, in the final. In 2007, the Buckeyes fell to Georgia, 4-0, in the final in Chicago.
STILL THE ONE
After picking up a pair of wins on the road against No. 22 North Carolina and No. 21 Wake Forest last weekend, Ohio State remains No. 1 in the ITA rankings announced Feb. 10 for the fourth-consecutive week.
The Scarlet and Gray opened the 2009 season ranked No. 1 in the ITA NCAA Division I preseason rankings announced Jan. 6. The top ranking is the first in Ohio State program history.
Under 10th-year head coach Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes have now been ranked in the Top 25 in the ITA standings for five-consecutive seasons. 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. Prior to that, the Buckeyes finished fifth in 2006 and 24th in 2005.
OHIO STATE VS. PEPPERDINE
The first-round match Friday marks only the third meeting between Ohio State and Pepperdine. The Buckeyes and Waves are even in the all-time series record at 1-1.
The Buckeyes earned their first victory in the series last season with a 5-2 win in Columbus at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center. Before the match at home against the Waves, the Buckeyes last played Pepperdine during the 1978-79 season in Malibu, Calif., losing 8-1.
THE NO. 20 WAVES
Pepperdine (6-2) is currently ranked No. 20 in the ITA rankings with victories over No. 25 Notre Dame, No. 70 UC Irvine, No. 48 Denver, No. 19 Alabama and No. 50 San Diego. The Waves have three players ranked in singles including No. 51 Omar Altmann, No. 57 Mahmoud Kamel and No. 122 Basam Beidas. In doubles, the Waves rank one pair with Altmann and Beidas at No. 45.
BUCKEYE INDIVIDUALS RANKED HIGH
Ohio State is the only team to have three student-athletes ranked in the singles Top 10 of the ITA NCAA Division I rankings announced Jan. 6.
In singles, the Buckeyes sit among the best collegiate talent in the nation as Bryan Koniecko is No. 1, while teammates Steven Moneke and Justin Kronauge are Nos. 3 and 6, respectively. Koniecko becomes the first Buckeye to be awarded the No. 1 ranking since Jeremy Wurtzman in 2004. This ranking comes after Koniecko took the crown at both the 2008 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships and the Wilson/ITA Midwest Regional with teammate Kronauge receiving runner-up awards in both.
Balazs Novak ranks No. 38 and Shuhei Uzawa sits at No. 77.
In doubles, Moneke and Novak are No. 11 as the top Buckeye doubles squad. Koniecko and Kronauge pair at No. 31, while Novak and Mike O’Connell rank No. 41.
Justin Kronauge, No. 6 in the nation, leads the Buckeyes in singles wins with 17 (four losses). So far, Kronauge is 6-1 in dual action and holds a 1-0 record at the No. 1 position and a 2-1 record at the No. 2 position. Kronauge is 3-0 against opponents at No. 3 singles.
Matt Allare and Kronauge lead the Buckeyes in doubles wins with nine. The duo holds a 3-1 record at No. 1 doubles and a 2-0 record at No. 2 doubles.
CLIMBING THE LIST
Seniors Bryan Koniecko and Steven Moneke are both currently climbing the list for career singles wins in the program.
Moneke, a two-time ITA All-American, garnered his 116th career singles victory after defeating No. 59 Taylor Fogleman of North Carolina, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1. The victory puts Moneke tied with former teammate Devin Mullings for third all-time in the OSU record book.
Koniecko, a two-time ITA All-American, moved into a tie for sixth-place in the OSU career singles record book with 108 wins. The Long Island, N.Y., native is even with current Buckeye assistant coach Jeremy Wurtzman for the sixth spot. Koniecko won, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, over Cory Parr of Wake Forest, the No. 34-rated singles player, to move to 8-1 against nationally-ranked opponents this season.
Since taking the crown at the 2008 Wilson/ITA Midwest Regional and the 2008 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in singles last fall, top-ranked Bryan Koniecko has won 15-consecutive singles matches dating back to Oct. 23.
Koniecko holds an overall singles record of 16-1and is 8-1 against nationally-ranked opponents, including four-consecutive wins in the 2008 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor singles championships against opponents in the Top 32 of the ITA preseason polls. On his quest to the indoor singles crown, Koniecko defeated No. 1 Oleksandr Nedovyesor of Oklahoma State, 6-2, 6-2, in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
OHIO STATE-OLE MISS MATCH CANCELLED
The Ohio State men’s tennis match vs. Ole Miss, scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, was cancelled because of severe weather in the Columbus area. After waiting until 8:10 p.m., the dual was called off because of a power outage caused by the inclement weather.