March 27, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio– The No. 2 Ohio State men’s tennis team is set for a big weekend of conference play, hosting No. 28 Northwestern at 6 p.m. Friday at the Varsity Tennis Center before facing conference-rival and No. 10 Illinois at Noon Sunday. If weather permits, the match vs. the Fighting Illini will be played outside at the Varsity Tennis Center Courts located on Olentangy River Road.
ONE HOME WIN AWAY FROM HISTORY
With a victory over Northwestern, the Buckeyes would break the NCAA all-time home win streak record of any intercollegiate sport in Division I athletics. With their 6-1 win last weekend against Michigan, the Scarlet and Gray tied Stanford women’s tennis, who alone held the home win streak record after claiming 184-consecutive home wins from 1999-2011.
Just how long is 11 years? Well, that’s more than 4,000 days ago and tennis star Roger Federer had zero Grand Slams to his credit. Overall, a total of 46 different Buckeyes have been a part of the streak since it began on April 5, 2003 with a 5-2 win over Purdue in Columbus. The win marked Ty Tucker’s 75th at Ohio State, who now has 414 career victories heading into this weekend. Consider the following when you flash back to 2003:
A LOOK AT NORTHWESTERN
The Buckeyes lead the Wildcats in their all-time head-to-head record 45-43, which includes last year’s 6-1 victory for Ohio State in Evanston. Coach Tucker holds a 16-1 record against Northwestern and has won 10-consecutive matches against the Wildcats. Raleigh Smith leads Northwestern in the ITA singles rankings at No. 37, while Sam Shropshire comes in at No. 113. In doubles, Smith and Mihir Kumar make up the No. 30 duo in the nation.
SCOUTING THE ILLINI
The regular season and B1G Championship have been won by Ohio State or the Illini every season since 1997. Buckeyes trail Illinois, 42-55-1, in their all-time head-to-head, but they have claimed 16 of the previous 18 meetings. Coach Tucker holds a 17-9 record against the Illini, including two victories last season, a 4-3 win in Champaign and a 4-0 win in Columbus during the B1G Tournament. Illinois has three representatives in the ITA singles rankings, with Jared Hiltzik leading the charge at No. 9, just below Kobelt. Farris Gosea (No. 23) and Tim Kopinski (No. 42) round out the Illini in the rankings. In doubles, Illinois is also represented three times, with Kopinski and Ross Guignon on top at No. 3. Gosea and Alex Jesse are ranked No. 59, while Hiltzik and Jesse are ranked No. 77.
• The Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 in the country for four-consecutive weeks, before dropping a close 4-3 match at No. 10 Georgia March 12. The No. 1 ranking stretch was the longest the team stood at the top of the polls in program history.
• The Buckeyes have been ranked in the ITA Top 10 for 259-consecutive matches (beginning March 7, 2006)
• Since 1999, Ohio State is 403-50 (.890) when ranked in the ITA Top 25.
• Ohio State won its first national team indoor title Feb. 17 with a 4-1 win over USC in Houston, Texas.
• Ohio State also has been victorious in 86-consecutive regular-season Big Ten matches, dating back to 2005.
• 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.
DUAL SEASON STATS
• With a 19-2 overall record, the Buckeyes own a 368-47 (.887) record as a Top 25 team since 2001.
• Redshirt juniors Hunter Callahan and Kevin Metka lead the Buckeyes in wins with 21 overall victories in singles followed by senior Peter Kobelt with 20 wins.
• In dual matches, Callahan and Metka are 17-2 in 2014. Redshirt freshman Ralf Steinbach trails right behind with 16 wins for the dual season
• Kobelt has the top dual record at No. 1 singles (13-1).
• In doubles, Kobelt and Metka are 26-6 overall with an 9-3 mark vs. nationally-ranked pairs.
LAST TIME OUT
The Buckeyes improved to 4-0 in conference play after winning 5-2 at Michigan State Mach 23 in East Lansing, Mich. Redshirt freshman Ralf Steinbach, native of Halle, Germany, clinched match point with a 7-6, 7-5 over Will Davis on court No. 6. In doubles, Steinbach and Hunter Callahan won their second match of the season together, downing Harry Jadun and Gijs Linder, 8-3, on court No. 2. The Spartans then took a doubles match on court No. 3 as Aaron Pfister and Brett Forman won, 8-4, against freshman Herkko Pollanen and Chris Diaz, 8-4. The doubles point came down to court No. 1 with senior Peter Kobelt and redshirt junior Kevin Metka battling MSU pair Drew Lied and John Patrick to 15 games. The fourth-ranked Buckeye duo came out on top, winning, 8-7. Kobelt, Callahan and Metka also claimed singles wins vs. the Spartans.
B1G ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Peter Kobelt, the eighth-ranked player in singles and half of the sixth-ranked doubles duo, was awarded the B1G Men’s Tennis Athlete of the Week for the fourth time this season and the fifth time in his career. He earned the honor for knocking off No. 112 Alex Petrone of Michigan (6-3, 3-6, 6-2) and Drew Lied of Michigan State (6-3, 6-1) in the No. 1 singles position. He added doubles wins against No. 22 Alex Buzzi and Barrett Franks of Michigan (8-6) and Lied and John Patrick Mullane of Michigan State (8-7 (7-3)) with partner Kevin Metka.
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 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, Feb. 14 with Hunter Callahan clinching and No. 13 Texas, 4-2, Feb. 15 in the quarterfinals. Redshirt junior Kevin Metka 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 Feb. 16. No. 3 USC was next, with Ohio State earning the doubles points and claimed the title with a 4-1 win over the Trojans Feb. 17. Redshirt freshman Ralf Steinbach clinched the championship for Ohio State with a 6-5 (7-4), 6-4 win over Connor Farren on court No. 4.
Ohio State begins a three-game road swing at Minnesota at 3 p.m. ET April 4 before traveling to Madison, Wis., to face the Badgers at 3 p.m. ET April 6.