Buckeyes Fall, 4-2, in NCAA Quarterfinals to UCLA
May 19, 2014
ATLANTA, Ga. – A memorable 2014 Ohio State men’s tennis season came to an end Sunday night as the No. 3 seed Buckeyes fell, 4-2, to No. 6 seed UCLA in the quarterfinals of the 2014 NCAA Championships at the Ken Byers Tennis Complex at on Georgia Tech’s campus in Atlanta, Ga. Play was moved off site to the indoor facility due to rain in the Athens area throughout Sunday.
The Buckeyes have a lot to be proud of this year. Losing five of seven starters from a 2013 Final Four team, Ohio State had a magical 2014 season, winning its first ITA indoor national title and claiming the Big Ten regular-season and tournament championships. The squad also broke the NCAA all-time home win streak record, which currently stands at 191-consecutive matches. Ohio State concludes the year with a 33-4 overall record advancing to their ninth-consecutive NCAA quarterfinals under head coach Ty Tucker.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Tucker said. “We had a couple of opportunities to have a shot to win this match. We have talked the last couple of days about only having one or two opportunities at the most, and we have to take advantage of them. We had some chances. UCLA has a lot of talent. They are a good, well-coached team, and they are good enough to win this tournament. Hats off to UCLA.”
Ohio State began the evening with a 1-0 lead, claiming the doubles point vs. the Bruins. UCLA got off to a fast start and were the first to claim a victory on court No. 3 when Joseph Di Giulio and Clay Thompson went up two breaks to defeat Chris Diaz and Hunter Callahan, 8-4. However, the Buckeyes were still in the hunt for the first point after Kevin Metka and Herkko Pollanen fought their way back on court No. 2 with a key break during the 11th game to force a tiebreaker. Before that happened, Peter Kobelt and Ralf Steinbach downed the tenth-ranked doubles tandem of Marcos Giron and Mackenzie McDonald, 8-6. With the point coming down to a tiebreaker on No. 2, Metka and Pollanen zoned in. The duo jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the tiebreak and never looked back, winning 8-7 (3) against Adrien Puget and Karue Sell.
The match marked the third-consecutive year Ohio State faced UCLA in the NCAA Tournament and it was a back-and-fourth battle in singles competition, which featured four third sets in all.
Highlighting the singles night for the Scarlet and Gray was No. 11 Kobelt who defeated the top-ranked player in the country with a 7-5, 7-6 (5) win over Clay Thompson. The lone senior on the team, Kobelt will be competing in both the singles and doubles (paired with Metka) NCAA championships this upcoming week in Athens. His second-set tiebreaker victory over Thompson put the Buckeyes ahead, 2-0.
However, the Bruins claimed four-consecutive singles wins after tallying victories in four of the six first sets. Puget was able to rally a second set tiebreaker and defeated Callahan 6-2, 7-6 (3) on court No. 5 to start the UCLA momentum. Callahan concludes the year with a team-best 34 victories. Moments later, Metka battled tough on court No. 6 saving two match points, but would eventual fall to No. 95 Sell in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.
Tied 2-2, the Buckeyes faced third sets on court Nos. 3-6, trailing on two of them vs. the Bruins. No. 101 Steinbach forced a third set on court No. 3 but was broken early and couldn’t recover, losing 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 against No. 35 McDonald. Diaz was strong in his first set, but was defeated in his second set to force a crucial final stanza vs. No. 71 Brymer on court No. 4. The OSU redshirt sophomore stood tough on the baseline, saving three match points, but would drop a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 match to clinch the victory for the Bruins. Play was suspended on court No. 2 where No. 109 Pollanen was in a third set battle with the second-ranked player in the country in Giron, trailing 6-3, 3-6, 4-2.
2014 NCAA Team Championships
Order of Finish: Singles (1,5,6,3,4), Doubles (3,1,2)