COLUMBUS, Ohio – The fourth-ranked Ohio State men’s tennis team will continue its homestand this weekend as it hosts a pair of Top 20 teams from the Southeastern Conference at the Varsity Indoor Tennis Center. The Buckeyes (5-0, 0-0) welcome the No. 18 Mississippi Rebels (2-1, 0-0) at 5 p.m. Friday and the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs (3-0, 0-0) will visit Columbus at noon Sunday.
A Look at Mississippi
The Rebels travel to Columbus on a one-game slide after falling, 4-2, at No. 13 Louisville in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend event. Ole Miss defeated No. 35 Tulsa, 4-3, in the first round. Senior Tucker Vorster, who went 28-14 last season, clinched his match at No. 2 singles vs. the Hurricane in the opening round to advance the Rebels. In their only home match so far on the young season, Ole Miss shut out in-state opponent Southern Miss, 6-0.
Mississippi is looking to build off a successful 2009-10 campaign. The Rebels went 19-8 overall and 7-4 in SEC play. Ole Miss only lost two matches all year at home, going 10-2. Out of their 27 matches a year ago, 23 were against ranked opponents. Mississippi came away with 15 wins in those matches. All eight losses were against Top 10 teams.
Buckeyes vs. Rebels
Ohio State is 2-2 all-time vs. Mississippi. Last season, the Buckeyes traveled to Oxford and left with a 4-2 victory. The Rebels are coached by Billy Chadwick, who is in his 29th season in Oxford and has guided his teams to a 496-220 mark.
A Glance at Georgia
The Bulldogs are coming off an undefeated showing in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend tournament as hosts, defeating Oklahoma State, 4-0, in the first round of action, before handing No. 20 North Carolina its first loss of the season, 4-1. Georgia won its eighth-consecutive season opener Jan. 24, shutting out the Clemson Tigers, 7-0, to move to 47-9 all-time in season openers. The Bulldogs are lead by 13th-ranked and senior All-American Javier Garrapiz, who is still perfect on the season and building off a 33-win season in 2009-10.
Last year, the Bulldogs finished with an overall record of 21-8, finishing 9-3 in the SEC. They were 16-3 at home, where they hosted the NCAA men’s tennis championships for a record 26th time. Georgia advanced to the semifinals while playing on its home courts in the NCAA tournament before falling to No. 2 Tennessee, 4-1. All of the Bulldogs’ regular-season losses were vs. teams ranked No. 10 or better.
Buckeyes vs. Bulldogs
The Buckeyes are 2-10 vs. Georgia all-time. Ohio State won, 4-2, in Athens last season, handing the Bulldogs one of their three home losses of the year at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The Red and Black are led by head coach Manuel Diaz, who in his 24th-year in control, has guided his teams to a 509-108 overall record. Georgia returns two starters and four letterwinners from a year ago.
Buckeyes vs. SEC
Ohio State is 38-58-1 vs. schools from the Southeastern Conference and 20-29 against SEC programs on the 2011 schedule, including a 10-12 mark vs. Kentucky and a 6-5 ledger vs. LSU. The Buckeyes also are 5-2 vs. Alabama, 3-0 vs. Arkansas, 1-2 vs. Auburn, 1-3 vs. Florida, 0-1 vs. Mississippi State, 1-4 vs. South Carolina, 3-8 vs. Tennessee and 4-7-1 vs. Vanderbilt.
Vick and Five Others Streaking
Six Buckeyes are entering the weekend boasting at least four-match winning streaks. Redshirt-freshman Nelson Vick leads all Buckeyes with a current nine-match winning streak on the season for an overall mark of 13-3.
Junior Chase Buchanan and senior Balazs Novak each carry streaks of five in a row. Buchanan impressively defeated No. 33 Chris Kearney of UC Irvine 6-3, 5-7, 10-6 to help keep his streak alive during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend and moved his overall singles record to 10-3. Novak’s mark of five in a row pushes his season record to 9-2 and 4-0 when playing at No. 4.
Freshmen Blaz Rola and Ille Van Engelen, as well as redshirt-sophomore Devin McCarthy, each have winning streaks of four matches heading into the contests vs. Ole Miss and Georgia this weekend.
A Look Back
The Scarlet and Gray moved to 5-0 on the year with three wins this past weekend. As hosts of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend event, Ohio State defeated No. 75 William & Mary, 7-0, in the first round before handing No. 56 UC Irvine its only loss of the tournament with another, 7-0, shutout in the qualifying final. The Buckeyes also moved to 27-2 all-time vs. Toledo with a 6-0 shutout of the Rockets. Ohio State now has shut out Toledo six consecutive seasons.
Freshman Ille Van Engelen recorded his first collegiate singles victory against Chris Herron from Butler, 6-2, 6-3 Jan. 26. Van Engelen, a native of the Netherlands, also collected his first doubles win as a Buckeye. Partnering with fellow freshman Blaz Rola, the duo defeated the Bulldog team of Brandon Bayliss and Lenz Theodor, 8-4. Van Engelen is 4-0 in singles and 1-0 in doubles on the young season.
Dominant in Columbus
The Buckeyes have won a school-record 115-consecutive home matches dating back to the 2002-03 season. In the Big Ten, no other team in any sport has won as many consecutive contests at home than the Buckeyes. Ohio State was victorious in all 21 home matches last season, marking the seventh-consecutive year the team achieved perfection in Columbus. The home win streak began April, 6, 2003 with a 5-2 triumph over Purdue.
100th Anniversary of Tennis
The opener against Butler and Xavier marked the 100th year of men’s tennis at Ohio State. The tennis program started in 1912 and after 99 years, the men’s tennis program has an overall record of 988-692-10 for a .585 winning percentage. Coach Tucker is the 11th coach in Ohio State men’s tennis history and with his winning percentage hovering around .850, he is the winningest coach in Buckeye tennis history. With 993 wins so far, Ohio State is seven wins from reaching 1,000 victories in its long history.
Buckeyes Earn High Inaugural Ranking
The 2010-11 season marks the fifth-consecutive year Ohio State has opened the campaign with a ranking of No. 4 or higher. Last season, Ohio State was ranked No. 3 in the preseason and finished the season ranked fifth. In 2009, the Buckeyes received a No. 1 preseason ranking, the first in program history, on their way to a runner-up finish in the NCAA championships. From 2006-08, Ohio State earned a preseason ranking of No. 3 or higher.
When polled as the No. 4 team in the country, Ohio State is 17-1 (.944).
Buckeyes Ranked in the Polls
Following an impressive fall campaign, freshman Blaz Rola was polled seventh by the ITA in the singles rankings. Rola, who is from Ptuj, Slovenia, joins four other Buckeyes ranked in the singles standings.
Senior Matt Allare sits comfortably at No. 34, while junior Devin McCarthy rounds out the Buckeyes who are ranked in the Top 50, coming in at No. 46. Junior Chase Buchanan is ranked as the 63rd-best singles player and redshirt-freshman Nelson Vick rounds out the Buckeyes at No. 72.
Rola finished the fall campaign 13-2 in singles and has added four more during the spring season. He finished the fall with three-straight wins before falling to No. 6 Steve Johnson of USC in the semifinals of the National Indoor Intercollegiate championships. Allare wrapped up the fall season 9-2, while Buchanan finished 5-3 in singles action. McCarthy concluded the autumn schedule 5-3 and Vick impressively finished 10-3.
In the doubles poll, Rola and Buchanan are the highest-rated Buckeye tandem at No. 6. The duo of Allare and Peter Kobelt is No. 19, while senior Balazs Novak and Devin McCarthy are ranked 25th. Rounding out the doubles rankings for Ohio State are seniors Shuhei Uzawa and Allare, who is the only Buckeye to be ranked as a member of two different doubles teams.
Ohio State will host another SEC opponent when LSU visits Columbus at 5 p.m. Feb. 12. The Scarlet and Gray are 6-5 all-time vs. the Tigers, winning the previous five meetings. The Buckeyes will then make their first road trip of the season Feb. 15 when they play No. 20 North Carolina. The Tar Heels are currently 2-1 on the year with their only loss coming to No. 11 Georgia during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The match will begin at 2:30 p.m. from Chapel Hill.