COLUMBUS, Ohio Before traveling to the 2009 ITA Team Indoor Championships in Chicago this weekend, the No. 1 Ohio State men’s tennis team will collide in a Top 10 dual match against No. 9 Mississippi at 6 p.m. Wednesday at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center.
The Buckeyes are coming off a two-game road swing, defeating No. 22 North Carolina, 7-0, Feb. 6 and No. 21 Wake Forest, 4-0, Feb. 8. The Buckeyes have an overall record of 7-0 this season with a 4-0 home record. The four home wins for the 2008-09 season improved the Buckeyes’ home win streak to 77-consecutive matches, which dates back to the 2003 season.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Buckeyes have won a school-record 77-consecutive home matches dating back to the 2002-03 season. No other Big Ten team in any sport has won as many contests 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.
STILL THE ONE
After picking up a pair of wins at the inaugural ITA Kick-Off Weekend against No. 64 Stetson and No. 30 Virginia Tech, Ohio State remains at No. 1 in the ITA rankings announced Feb. 3 for the third-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 ranked in the Top 25 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 finished 5th in 2006 and 24th in 2005.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Ohio State is the only team to have three student-athletes ranked in the Top 10 of the ITA NCAA Division I singles rankings (as of Feb. 3).
In singles, the Buckeyes sit among the best collegiate talent in the nation with Bryan Koniecko ranking No. 1, classmate Steven Moneke sitting at No. 3 and junior Justin Kronauge holding No. 6. Koniecko became the first Buckeye to sit 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 come in at No. 11 as the top Buckeye doubles tandem. Koniecko and Kronauge pair at No. 31, while Novak and Mike O’Connell rank No. 41.
OHIO STATE VS. OLE MISS
The match Wednesday marks only the fourth meeting between Ohio State and Ole Miss. The Rebels hold a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series record.
The Buckeyes earned their first victory in the series last season with a 4-2 victory in Oxford, Miss. The programs first met during the second year of Ohio State men’s varsity tennis in the 1979-80 season. The Scarlet and Gray lost, 6-3, to the Rebels at home in Columbus. The teams did not play each other again until the 2002-03 season when Ohio State fell, 6-1, to Ole Miss on the road.
THE NO. 9 REBELS
Ole Miss, ranked ninth in the ITA standings, is 4-0 on the season, including two wins in Oxford at the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Qualifier. The Rebels defeated Kentucky, 4-3, Jan. 31 and Wake Forest, 4-1, Feb. 1 to advance to the indoor national championships, Feb. 13-15, in Chicago.
The squad opened the 2009 indoor season with a 7-0 win over Troy Jan. 29 at home and earned its only road victory vs. in state rival Mississippi State, 4-2, last Thursday. Freshman Otto Sauer clinched the Rebels’ 10th-consecutive Mississippi Cup in Jackson, Miss., downing MSU’s Chris Doerr, 7-6(4), 6-4.
Ole Miss has three student-athletes in the ITA singles rankings, as well as the first-ranked doubles pair in seniors Jonas Berg and Bram ten Berge. Besides earning the top seat as a duo, Berg holds the squad’s highest singles ranking at No. 29 while ten Berge stands at No. 89. Junior Kalle Norberg also enters the national rankings for Ole Miss at the No. 52 spot.
Justin Kronauge, ranked 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.
Head coach Ty Tucker has led the Buckeyes to 20 or more wins in eight of nine complete seasons at Ohio State. Last year marked a record-breaking year for the Buckeyes as they compiled a 35-2 record for the first time in school history.
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 (116) 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.
There is no sign of slowing down for Ohio State. Under Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes have risen from the cellar of the Big Ten Conference to a nationally dominant program, earning the ITA preseason No. 1 ranking in 2009.
The future continues to look bright for the Scarlet and Gray as Tucker’s incoming freshman class was voted the second-best in the nation by a panel of junior tennis experts in a media poll conducted by TennisRecruiting.net.
The class, consisting of all Ohio natives, includes Blue Chip star and New Albany native Chase Buchanan. In addition, Tucker has two five-star recruits in Peter Kobelt (New Albany) and Wyatt Lippert (Cincinnati) joining the team and a four-star recruit in Devin McCarthy (Cincinnati), who enrolled at Ohio State in January.
The Buckeye recruiting class is tied for second with Yale while Stanford earned the top nod.
LAST TIME OUT
Ohio State is coming off a two-game road swing defeating No. 22 North Carolina, 7-0, Feb. 6 and No. 21 Wake Forest, 4-0, Feb. 8. The Buckeyes two road wins are the first two wins against Top 25 opponents and improved to a 3-0 away record this season.
Against North Carolina, meeting for just the fifth time in program history, senior captain Bryan Koniecko clinched the victory for Ohio State at No. 1 singles with a 6-3, 7-5 win against No. 73 Clay Donato.
Pairing for only the third time this season, the No. 11-ranked pair of senior Steven Moneke and sophomore Balazs Novak retired UNC’s Andrew Crone and Zach Hunter in convincing fashion, 8-2, at No. 2 doubles to set the tone for the match. Koniecko and sophomore Shuhei Uzawa, playing together for the first time in the 2009 indoor season, clinched the doubles point for Ohio State as the duo defeated the Tar Heel tandem of Brennan Boyjian and Alex Rafiee, 8-1.
Against Wake Forest, Ohio State won the doubles point against the Demon Deacons with wins at the Nos. 2 and 3 positions. Koniecko and Novak started off with an 8-1 win at No. 3 singles over Andrew Brasseaux and Joost Vogel of Wake Forest.
Kronauge and Moneke clinched the doubles points at the No. 2 position with an 8-4 win over the Deacons’ Jonathan Wolff and Jason Morgenstern.
The match was secured at No. 6 singles with Uzawa winning in three sets, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1, over Wolff.
The Buckeyes will next travel to Chicago, Ill., to compete at the 2009 ITA National Men’s Tennis Team Indoor Championships. The 16-field tournament, including the nation’s top teams, will take place Feb. 13 -16 at the Midtown Tennis Club and is hosted by the University of Illinois.