Feb. 21, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 1 Ohio State men’s tennis team, fresh off of its first title at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship this past week, travels to face No. 10 Notre Dame at Noon ET Saturday followed by its first Big Ten conference match of the season against No. 58 Indiana at 2 p.m. ET Monday.
The Buckeyes have an even 27-27 record against the Fighting Irish, but Ohio State has captured wins in 12 of their last 13 meetings. Against the Hoosiers, the Buckeyes own a 44-41 head-to-head record, with Ohio State claiming wins in the previous 14 meetings. Ty Tucker holds a 12-4 record against Notre Dame and a 14-2 record against Indiana in his coaching career.
• Ohio State has won 181-consecutive matches in Columbus (9-0 in 2014). The streak is the longest active among Division I sports.
• The Buckeyes have been ranked in the ITA Top 10 for 251-consecutive matches (beginning March 7, 2006)
• Since 1999, Ohio State is 396-48 (.892) when ranked in the ITA Top 25.
• The Buckeyes are 6-0 against teams ranked in the Top 25 in 2014 (No. 17 Kentucky, 4-0; No. 8 Texas A&M, 4-3; No. 12 Florida, 4-1, No. 10 Texas, 4-2; No. 1 Virginia, 4-3; No. 3 USC, 4-1).
• Ohio State became the first Big Ten school to win a team indoor title since 2004.
• For the eighth-consecutive season, Ohio State was crowned the Big Ten regular-season champions and won the conference tournament title seven of the last eight seasons in 2013.
Guided by director of tennis and head coach Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes defeated four Top 25 teams, including two Top 5 programs en route to the national title and are now 13-0 overall in 2014 to put Ohio State at its best start to a season in program history. The Buckeyes downed No. 12 Florida in the first round 4-1 with redshirt junior Hunter Callahan (Lower Gwtnedd, Pa.) clinching. No. 13 Texas, who upset No. 4 Georgia the day before.
Redshirt junior Kevin Metka (Worthington, Ohio) clinched the match to send the Buckeyes to a semifinal against No. 1 Virginia. The semifinal proved to be a 4-3 classic with Metka pulling off the upset with a 6-5 (7-5), 5-6 (5-7), 6-5 (12-10) victory, saving two match points. No. 3 USC was next, with Ohio State earning the doubles points and claimed the title with a 4-1 win over the Trojans. Redshirt freshman Ralf Steinbach (Halle, Germany) clinched the title for the Buckeyes.
TOP OF THE POLL
The Buckeyes jumped four spots to No. 1 in the latest ITA rankings announced Tuesday. The Top ranking is the second time in Ohio State program history after being ranked No. 1 during the 2008-09 season. Ohio State is 9-1 all-time as the No. 1 team in the country.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame vaulted into the Top 10 in the ITA Team Rankings this week after going 2-1 at the NTI Championships. The Irish upset No. 8 Kentucky in Lexington to qualify for the NTI and again defeated the Wildcats (this time ranked No. 13) a week later before traveling to Houston. At the NTI, Notre Dame fell to No. 1 Virginia 4-2, but bounced back to defeat both No. 9 Mississippi State and No. 12 Florida back-to-back in consolation competitions. Notre Dame has two ranked singles players (No. 37 Greg Andrews and No. 121 Ryan Bandy) and two ranked doubles duos (No. 17 Andrews/Alex Lawson, No. 46 Josh Hagar/Billy Pecor).
A LOOK AT THE HOOSIERS
No. 58 Indiana has won five of its last six matches, highlighted by sweeping two doubleheaders this past weekend in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are 6-1 at home and are led by Sven Lalic, who appeared at No. 80 in the first ITA rankings of the 2014 cycle. Lalic and Dimitrije Tasic from Indiana’s No. 1 doubles team and hold a 6-3 record in the dual season. Tasic was also the runner-up in the B1G Singles Championship in the fall.
B1G ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Redshirt senior Peter Kobelt (New Albany, Ohio) was named the B1G Men’s Tennis Player of the Week for his outstanding play at the NTI. Kobelt claimed six wins over ranked opponents in singles and doubles, including three in the ITA top ten. It was the second weekly accolade for the Buckeye, with his first on Feb. 27, 2013. The last Ohio State player to receive the award was former Buckeye Blaz Rola (2010-2013) on April 10, 2013.
BUCKEYES DOWN RANKED OPPONENTS
In singles, Ohio State has claimed nine singles victories over ranked opponents in the dual season, including six at the NTI. Freshman Herkko Pollanen (Helsinki, Finland) claimed his first ranked win with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 32 George Goldhoff of Texas. Callahan finished his NTI campaign with back-to-back 6-3, 6-4 wins over No. 62 Jordan Diagle of Virginia and No. 47 Jonny Wang of USC, respectively. Steinbach downed his first ranked opponent earlier in the season against Kentucky, defeating No. 97 Kevin Lai 6-1, 6-2.
In doubles, the Buckeyes have earned three ranked wins, all at the NTI and from Kobelt and Metka. They defeated No. 24 Piro/Alford of Florida, No. 7 Hess-Olesen/Glasspool of Texas and No. 35 Sarmiento/Hanfmann of USC en route to their undefeated week in Houston.
On Feb. 28, Ohio State will host No. 23 North Carolina (9-1) at 6 p.m. at the Varsity Tennis Center. The Buckeyes hold an 8-0 record against the Tar Heels, who are led by No. 15 Brayden Schnur, No. 21 Ronnie Schneider and No. 39 Brett Clark in singles and No. 53 Schneider/Jack Murray and No. 58 Esben Hess-Olesen/Brett Clark in doubles. Ohio State will then host its first Big Ten home match against No. 43 Penn State March 2 at Noon ET. As always, admission is free.