May 3, 2001

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COLUMBUS, Ohio– The Ohio State men’s tennis team, ranked No. 21 in the latest ITA national poll, will open the first round of the 2001 NCAA Tennis Team Championships on the Varsity Courts in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday May 12, against No. 41 Virginia Commonwealth. OSU enters the contest with a 24-3 overall record (11-2 Big Ten) and as the Big Ten’s automatic qualifier after upsetting No. 12 Illinois, 4-2, at Madison, Wis., April 29. VCU (17-10) is playing in its ninth-consecutive NCAA Tournament after winning the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament for the sixth-consecutive year.

No. 8 Tennessee is one of 16 top seeds to host first and second round matches. The Volunteers will meet Maryland-Baltimore County in the other first-round match. The OSU-VCU winner will face the winner of the Tennessee vs. Maryland-Baltimore County match Sunday, May 13 for a chance to advance to the final 16 in Athens, Ga., May 19-22.

The 2001 championship tournament, the 117th played, marks the second-consecutive appearance for the Buckeyes and the second-ever appearance by an OSU team in program history. Led by Big Ten Coach of the Year Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes will look to build on the success of the NCAA tournament a year ago when they defeated No. 25 Boise State, 4-3, in the opening round before falling to No. 15 Texas, 4-1, in the second round.

Phillip Metz (So., Mentor, Ohio/Mentor), the No. 36 singles player in the nation, also was selected to participate in the NCAA Singles Championship making him the ninth Buckeye to enter into the competition. Metz is 34-10 overall this year and went 9-4 in the Big Ten at the No. 1 singles position. He posted a 5-2 mark over opponents currently ranked in the Top 50 which include victories over Georgia’s Matias Boeker (No. 5), Purdue’s Jason Marshall (No. 40), Minnesota’s Harsh Mankad (No. 44) and Illinois’ Graydon Oliver (No. 26) twice. Singles play begins May 23 in Athens. His opponent has not been determined.

Quoting Ohio State head coach Ty Tucker…

“I am happy the match will be within distance for our fans to come see us play,” Tucker said. “We are in the tournament and that’s great. I don’t know much about Tennessee but we lost to VCU last year when they were the national runners-up. There are no easy rounds in the NCAA tournament. You have to play good tennis to win.”

“Illinois was a Top 10 team when we beat them last week,” Tucker said. “Tennessee is No. 8. Everybody is good and if we play good solid tennis we can survive. Right now we have to concentrate on VCU. They were in the Top 10 during the regular season for about a month. We have got to get ready and go at those guys hard.”

“I am happy we have made the tournament for the second year,” Tucker said. “We have played a lot of tennis and have gotten a lot better in the last year and a half. Our guys are ready to play. We are excited to be going to an SEC school with a nice facility. It is going to be fun. Tennessee is a tennis powerhouse. We are looking forward to going there.”

“Phil had a great year,” Tucker said. “He deserves everything he gets. He is ranked No. 2 in our region and has beaten No. 1 (Illinois’ Graydon Oliver) twice in the last month. Phil played for an NCAA singles invitation and earned it the last part of the year. He will be a tough out for anybody on the courts in Athens.”