COLUMBUS, Ohio The top-rank Ohio State men’s tennis team will hit the road this weekend for two tough matches against Top 25 teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Buckeyes (5-0; 0-0 Big Ten) face No. 22 North Carolina 3 p.m. Friday in Chapel Hill, N.C., and then travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., to take on No. 21 Wake Forest at noon Sunday.

Last season, Ohio State defeated North Carolina, 4-2, and Wake Forest, 5-1, in back-to-back home matches at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center.

The Scarlet and Gray remain at No. 1 in the latest ITA NCAA Division I rankings announced Tuesday.

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.

The Buckeyes advanced to the 16-team ITA National Team Indoor Championships after defeating No. 64 Stetson, 7-0, Saturday and No. 30 Virginia Tech, 5-2, Sunday at The Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center. The Buckeyes will now travel to Chicago, Ill., Feb 13-16, for the 2009 team indoor championships, facing competition from the nation’s top collegiate programs.

Against Stetson, No. 6 Justin Kronauge clinched the victory for the Scarlet and Gray with a 6-2, 6-4 win against Stetson’s Mark Mestan in No. 2 singles. No. 3 Steven Moneke defeated Njal Stene 6-3, 6-1 to give the Buckeyes an early 3-0 advantage against the Hatters in No. 3 singles. Moneke is fourth on the all-time career singles wins in program history with 115, and is one win away to tie Devin Mullings (116) for third on the all-time career singles list. Sophomore Matt Allare gave the Buckeyes momentum, winning the first singles match of the day. Allare defeated Chris Swanteson 6-2, 7-5 at No. 6 singles.

In doubles, Bryan Koniecko and Moneke swept the first doubles match in the No. 1 spot against Filip Kricka and Maksim Levanovich, 8-0. In No. 2 doubles, Allare and Kronauge sealed the doubles point for the Buckeyes with an 8-1 victory against Mestan and Cesare Gallo.

Against Virginia Tech in the winners match, the highlight of the contest was the doubles performance by both teams. After No. 41 Balazs Novak and Mike O’Connell lost 8-6 to Yoann Re and Patrick Daciek in No. 3 doubles, the Buckeyes remained focused. In No. 1 doubles, Bryan Koniecko and Steven Moneke evened the tides with an 8-3 victory against No. 20 Nicolas Delgado de Robles and Luka Somen.

At the No. 2 spot, Matt Allare and Justin Kronauge made a fierce comeback in the late stages of the match after Allare lobbed a perfect ball over the heads of Hokies Brandon Corace and Pedro Graber to tie the match at 7-all. The Buckeye duo surged on to win its fifth-consecutive doubles match with a 9-7 victory.

The Buckeyes are now 1-0 all-time vs. Stetson and improved to 7-1 all-time against the Hokies.

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 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.

No. 22 North Carolina comes into the matchup against Ohio State after defeating No. 24 California, 4-3, in the consolation match at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship Qualifier in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Tar Heels are 5-1 on the season and won their first four matches before losing to No. 33 Virginia Commonwealth, 4-2, in the first match of the ITA indoor qualifier.

The Buckeyes are 3-0-1 all-time against the Tar Heels. Last season, Ohio State defeated North Carolina, 4-2, at home.

No. 21 Wake Forest is 3-1 on the season. The Demon Deacons won the first three matches of the season including a 4-1 win against No. 27 Rice. Wake Forest dropped a 4-1 decision against No. 9 Mississippi in the winners match of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship Qualifier in Oxford, Miss.

The Buckeyes are 3-3 all-time against Wake Forest. Ohio State defeated the Demon Deacons last season, 5-1, in Columbus.

Sixth-ranked Justin Kronauge leads the Buckeyes in singles wins with 15 while only suffering four losses. So far, Kronauge is 4-1 in dual action with 1-0 records at the Nos. 1 and 3 singles.
The pair of Matt Allare and Kronauge leads the team in doubles wins with nine and hold a 5-0 record in dual action. The Buckeye pair is 3-0 at No. 1 doubles and 2-0 at No. 2 doubles 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 13-consecutive singles matches dating back to Oct. 23.

Koniecko holds an overall singles record of 14-1and is 6-1 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.

The Buckeyes will return home for at Top 10 battle against No. 9 Mississippi at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at The Ohio State University Indoor Varsity Tennis Center.