COLUMBUS, Ohio – The five-time reigning Big Ten champion Ohio State men’s tennis team will start the 2011 spring campaignWednesday with a home doubleheader against Butler and Xavier. The match against the Bulldogs will begin at noon, whuile the contest vs. the Musketeers will start at 6 p.m. at the Ohio State University Varsity Indoor Tennis Center.
This is the fifth-consecutive season the Buckeyes will host Butler and Xavier in thier season opener. Ohio State has not allowed a point versus either squad during the past four doubleheaders, en route to a perfect 8-0 mark.
Buckeyes Earn High Inaugural Ranking
After finishing the 2010 season fifth in the nation, the 100th year of Ohio State men’s tennis will begin with the team ranked No. 4 in the first Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings of 2011. This is the 11th-consecutive year head coach Ty Tucker has guided the Buckeyes to a Top 25 ITA ranking in the inaugural poll.
This season marks the fifth year in a row that Ohio State has had 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 12-1 (.923).
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 and Cincinnati native, 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. He finished with three wins before falling to No. 6 Steve Johnson of USC in the semifinals of the National Indoor Intercollegiate championships. Allare, a Mason, Ohio native, wrapped up the fall season 9-2, while New Albany native, Chase Buchanan finished 5-3 in singles action. McCarthy concluded the autumn schedule 5-3, while 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.
Tucker’s Opening Day Success
Under head coach Ty Tucker, Ohio State has never lost its first match of the season. The formerBuckeye currently owns an opening-day record of 22-0 since taking over the program 12 years ago (The Buckeyes traditionally play two matches on opening day).
While Ohio State opens its season against Butler, the Bulldogs will have already played three matches before they travel to Columbus. It will be the third Big Ten match-up out of four on the year for the Horizon League member. They face Wisconsin Jan. 22, Indiana Jan. 25 and Purdue Feb. 12.
Butler is coached by five-time Horizon League Coach of the Year, John Suscha. The Bulldogs have appeared six times in the NCAA tournament under Suscha’s 13 years of guidance, and have amassed a 78-8 record in dual-match competition within the Horizon League.
Ohio State vs. Butler
Ohio State leads the all-time series against Butler, 11-0. The teams met a year ago in Columbus where the Buckeyes claimed a 7-0 victory for the second-consecutive season.
Against the Horizon League
Ohio State is a perfect 29-0 all-time when competing against Horizon League competition. The Buckeyes are 11-0 vs. Butler, 6-0 vs. Cleveland State, 6-0 vs. Detroit and 6-0 vs. Wright State. Under head coach Ty Tucker, Ohio State is 23-0 against Horizon League teams.
Ohio State is the second match of the year for the Xavier men’s tennis squad. The Musketeers open the season against Kentucky Jan. 23. The Buckeyes are the only Big Ten challenger on the year for Xavier. Last season, the Musketeers finished as Atlantic 10 champions for the third-consecutive year, going 17-8 overall with a 7-1 record in conference play. The Musketeers defeated George Washington 4-3, in the A-10 Men’s Tennis Championship to claim conference honors.
Xavier was led last season in singles by Brandon McDonald, who posted a 28-10 singles record. Senior Brian Starr is tied for 2nd in Xavier history with 76 single wins.
Ohio State vs. Xavier
Ohio State holds an unblemished 9-0 record against Xavier. All nine victories vs. the Musketeers have been under the direction of head coach Ty Tucker. Last season, the Buckeyes shutout Xavier 7-0, Jan. 20.
Ohio State vs. Atlantic 10
Ohio State has a 17-3 record against teams from the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Buckeyes are 5-2 vs. Dayton, 3-1 vs. George Washington and 9-0 vs. Xavier.
Dominant in Columbus
The Buckeyes have won a school-record 110-consecutive home matches dating back to the 2002-03 season. In the Big Ten, no other team in any sport has won as many games in a row 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 will mark the 100th year of men’s tennis at Ohio State. The tennis program started in 1912 and is the second oldest sport at Ohio State other than baseball. 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 history and with his winning percentage hovering around .850, he is the winningest coach in Buckeye tennis history.
Senior Trio Returns
Ohio State returns three seniors who will be key starters in both the singles and doubles lineups this year. Matt Allare, Balazs Novak and Shuhei Uzawa have won a combined 244 singles matches in three full seasons with the Buckeyes. In 2010, each player claimed at least 20 wins. Tucker has seen these three develop as their confidence continues to grow each day in practice and this year is their time to lead by example.
Allare, a native of Mason, Ohio, was 25-5 overall in singles and 23-13 in doubles last season. When paired with Uzawa in doubles last year, the duo went 22-13 overall, which was tied for the team lead.
As for Novak, the native of Budapest, Hungary, picked up where he left off the previous two seasons, going 37-7 in singles and 37-3 in doubles, both team highs in 2010. During the season, Novak was an important contributor in the singles lineup with a combined 31-4 record at the Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6 positions.
Uzawa, a native of Chiba, Japan, put together a good 2010 season. He was 20-16 in singles and 25-13 overall in doubles. In singles, Uzawa was perfect at No. 3 with a 4-0 mark and was 22-13 in doubles play when paired with Allare.
The trio has been so successful in the Big Ten, here is one final note: The three have combined for a career Big Ten singles record of 40-4.
This year’s challenging schedule will prepare Ohio State for the postseason. 2010 NCAA tournament teams, No. 18 Mississippi, No. 11Georgia, and LSU, who also finished in the Top 50 of the ITA poll last season, will make the trip to Columbus between Feb. 4 and 12. Following those contests, the Buckeyes travel to No. 12 North Carolina Feb. 15 to take on a Tar Heel team that was ranked 20th at the end of last season. In all, Ohio State will face 15 teams that finished ranked in the ITA Top 75 last year.
Beginning Feb. 18, the highly regarded ITA National Team Indoor championships will take place in Seattle, Wash. Ohio State is one of 15 qualifying host sites for the National Team Indoor Championships, as it will host the ITA Kickoff Weekend at the Varsity Indoor Tennis Center Saturday and Sunday. South Carolina, UC Irvine and William & Mary will compete with the Buckeyes in the qualifier.
Starting March 4, Ohio State will encounter a tough seven-game stretch on the road, including nonconference trips to No. 10 Texas A&M, No. 21 Pepperdine, and No. 12 Kentucky. The last out-of-conference match takes place when the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame come to Columbus in the middle of Big Ten play April 13. The regular season concludes April 24 at home for the Buckeyes, when they finish conference play vs. Purdue. The Big Ten championships will take place at Wisconsin April 28 through May 1, two weeks prior to NCAA Regionals, which runs May 14-15.
Kronauge Now Assistant Coach
After graduating from Ohio State last year, Justin Kronauge has decided to stay with the men’s tennis team but in a different capacity. After setting men’s tennis records for most singles wins (147), most doubles wins (133) and most overall wins (280) as a player from 2007-10, Kronauge will replace Jim Laitta as assistant coach for the Buckeyes this year.
Year in Review
Although the No. 4 Buckeyes fell short of their ultimate goal after dropping a 4-0 decision to No. 5 USC in the quarterfinals of the 2010 NCAA Championships at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., Ohio State showed the tennis community the program will continue to be a powerhouse for years to come.
The Buckeyes (35-2; 10-0) completed the campaign with a list of impressive statistics, both individually and as a team. Ohio State amassed 35 wins for the second-most in program history and recorded a winning percentage of .946. Buckeyes also compiled the second-longest dual-match winning streak with 27 victories. Along with winning their fifth-consecutive Big Ten regular-season and tournament crowns, the team improved its remarkable home win streak to 110 consecutive wins, dating back to 2003. With 10 members on the squad returning in 2011, it is safe to say the Scarlet and Gray will be a force not only in conference play, but also on the national stage.
Ohio State returns to action this Satuday and Sunday as it hosts UC Irvine, South Carolina and William & Mary for the ITA Kickoff Weekend.
The Buckeyes will face William & Mary at 10 a.m. Saturday. UC Irvine and South Carolina will follow at 2 p.m.
The consolation match for the tournament begins at 10 a.m. Sunday, while the winners from from Satuday will play in the championship beginning at 1 p.m.