May 27, 2013

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Blaz Rola, a four-time All-American on the Ohio State men’s tennis team, won the 2013 NCAA Singles Championship with a 7-6(8), 6-4 win over No. 3 Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia Monday afternoon at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex/Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill. Rola, the Buckeyes’ first NCAA singles champion in program history, adds the individual singles title to a list of impressive career achievements which includes winning the 2012 NCAA Doubles Championship with Chase Buchanan, a Buckeye letterwinner from 2009-2012.

Rola, a junior ranked 12th in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association polls (May 2), was the Big Ten’s at-large singles selection and appeared in the national final for the first time in his Buckeye career. In 2012, Rola advanced as far as the semifinals where he fell 6-2, 6-1 to Kentucky’s and No. 3 seed Eric Quigley. With the championship win, Rola is now 13-2 all-time in the NCAA Singles Championship. Rola finishes the 2013 season 32-1 overall, with his lone loss coming against Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jared Hiltzik of Illinois. Rola has now won at least 30 singles matches in each of his seasons at Ohio State. In 2011-12, Rola was 37-7 overall and in 2010-11 he posted a 41-7 record.

In 2013, Rola, a three-time unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selection, defeated 11 ranked singles opponents in dual matches and an additional six ranked opponents en route to the NCAA singles championship title.

Against Jenkins, the odds appeared to be in Rola’s favor after he won a hard-fought 10-8 tiebreaker in the first set. Rola finished the year 29-0 when winning the opening set. Of the four matches where he dropped the first set, Rola rallied in three of them en route to a victory in 2013. In the NCAA final, Rola jumped out to a 3-1 lead after breaking Jenkins in the third game (2-1). However, a double fault by the Buckeye from Slovenia put the match back on serve, 3-2, and both players would go on to hold serve until the tiebreaker. Rola was serving for the set, up 6-2, before Jenkins, a senior from College Park, Ga., answered with four-consecutive wins to tie the score, 6-6. Five points later, Rola held a 9-8 lead with Jenkins serving to remain in the set. However, a double fault by Jenkins would give Rola the opening-set win.

Rola and Jenkins remained on serve in the second set until the seventh game when the Buckeye took a 4-3 lead on the Cavalier’s serve. After quickly taking a 5-3 advantage, Jenkins held serve for the final time to make the score, 5-4. On championship point (40-30), Rola served an ace for the win.

Blaz Rola
6-4, 175
Ptuj, Slovenia
Gimnazija Ptuj
Major: International Business Administration
2013 Records: Overall: 32-1; Dual: 26-1; Tournament: 6-0; Big Ten: 9-1

Ohio State Career Honors – 2013 NCAA Singles Champion, 2012 NCAA Doubles Champion, 2011 ITA All-American Championships Doubles Champion, 2011 USTA/ITA National Indoor Doubles Champion (all with Chase Buchanan), 2011 USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Singles Champion … four-time ITA All-American (2011 singles; 2012 singles and doubles; 2013 singles) … 2011 NCAA All- Tournament Team at No. 3 doubles … 2011 ITA National Player to Watch …  2011 ITA Midwest Region Rookie of the Year … unanimous 2011, 2012 and 2013 First Team All-Big Ten … 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year … nine-time Big Ten Athlete of the Week honoree … tied for 10th all-time at Ohio State in career singles wins with 109 … sits in seventh place in Ohio State records book for combined career wins with 214 … 2011 ITA Scholar-Athlete …2012 Academic All-Big Ten honoree … 2011, 2012 and 2013 Ohio State Scholar-Athlete.

Blaz Rola Quotes
On winning the NCAA Singles title
“It’s unbelievable. The past champions who have won this tournament, John McEnroe, the Bryan brothers, for my name to be up there, it’s just overwhelming. It’s unbelievable and I’m really happy.”

On the match
“It was tough. The conditions were humid, it was very hot. The first set lasted over an hour and I think it took a toll on both of us. I’m really happy and relaxed that I won in straight sets, it would’ve been tough to play three.”

On the first-set tiebreak
“I was up 6-2 and I was serving for it. I hit a good serve; I hit a good forehand and unfortunately I missed the second ball. I thought, ‘It’s alright, 6-3,’ but he hit two great shots. On my service game he came up big again so I was thinking, ‘oh my god, I missed four set points, come on.’ I kept my mind relaxed and thankfully I came through in the first set. It was a crucial point in the match.”

2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Singles Championship
May 27, 2013
Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex/Atkins Tennis Center
Urbana, Ill.

Blaz Rola
First Round –>Blaz Rola def. Ben McLachlan (California), 6-2, 7-6(4)
Second Round –>Blaz Rola def. Malte Stropp (Mississippi State), 6-1, 6-4
Round of 16 –>Blaz Rola def. Tsvetan Mihov (South Carolina), 6-3, 6-2
Quarterfinals –>Blaz Rola def. No. 8 seed Henrique Cunha (Duke), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
Semifinals –>Blaz Rola def. Japie De Klerk (Tulsa), 6-2, 6-3
Final –>Blaz Rola def. No. 3 seed Jarmere Jenkins (Virginia), 7-6 (10-8), 6-4