No. 1 Buckeyes Ready for Top 15 Road Showdown
Freshman Herkko Pollanen
April 8, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The No. 1 Ohio State men's tennis team completes its three-match road trip at 2 p.m. Wednesday at No. 14 Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. The Buckeyes (23-2, 8-0 B1G) face the Wildcats (16-7, 8-2 SEC) for the second time this season, with Ohio State winning last time out in Columbus, 4-0, Feb. 7. Kentucky returns to the courts after earning a 4-2 win over No. 26 Vanderbilt, while Ohio State has won six-consecutive matches heading into the midweek non-conference match.
BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
• The Buckeyes remain at No. 1 in the latest ITA rankings released Tuesday.
• The Buckeyes have been ranked in the ITA Top 10 for 263-consecutive matches (beginning March 7, 2006)
• Since 1999, Ohio State is 407-50 (.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 90-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.
• With a 23-2 overall record, the Buckeyes own a 372-47 (.888) record as a Top 25 team since 2001.
• Redshirt junior Kevin Metka leads the Buckeyes with 25 singles wins followed by classmate Hunter Callahan with 24 victories and senior Peter Kobelt with 22 overall wins.
• In dual matches, Metka is 21-2, while Callahan and redshirt freshman Ralf Steinbach are 20-3.
• Kobelt has the top dual record at No. 1 singles (15-3).
• In doubles, Kobelt and Metka are 27-6 overall with a 9-3 mark vs. nationally-ranked pairs.
TOP 25 BATTLES
Entering its 12th meeting of the season vs. a Top 25 team, Ohio State boasts a 122-52 (.706) record vs. Top 25 competition since 2000. The Buckeyes also own a 7-2 record vs. opponents that are 14th in the country and a 15-3 record as a No.1-ranked team.
The Buckeyes are 9-2 against teams ranked in the Top 25 in 2014 (No. 17 Kentucky, 4-0; No. 8 Texas A&M, 4-3; No. 12 Florida, 4-1, No. 10 Texas, 4-2; No. 1 Virginia, 4-3; No. 3 USC, 4-1 and No. 10 Notre Dame, 4-2, No. 12 North Carolina, 4-1; No. 10 Illinois, 5-2).
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
Ohio State leads Kentucky, 16-12, in their all-time series. Guided under director of tennis and head coach Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes are undefeated vs. the Wildcats (11-0).
Last time out, the Scarlet and Gray downed the Wildcats, 4-0, in a home match to prepare for the ITA National Indoor Team Championships. Then-No.31 Kobelt downed then-No.68 Tom Jomby 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 to clinch the shutout. Redshirt junior Kevin Metka and Ralf Steinbach earned straight-set wins, where Steinbach also earned his first victory over a ranked opponent. In doubles, redshirt junior Hunter Callahan and freshman Herkko Pollanen and then-No.7 Kobelt and Metka earned tiebreaker victories to clinch the doubles point. Kentucky has three members in the latest ITA singles poll with Jomby leading the pack at No.11. Alejandro Gomez is No. 85 and Beck Pennington rounds out the trio at No. 90. In doubles, Jomby and Kevin Lai are the only pairing ranked, coming in at No. 31.
KOBELT RISES IN OSU RECORD BOOK
Senior Peter Kobelt currently is in the Top 10 in multiple OSU career wins lists. Kobelt, the 2014 National Indoor Most Outstanding Player, is second on the OSU all-time doubles wins list with 128 victories and recently passed former Buckeye Bryan Koniecko, who collected 125 career wins from 2006-09. He is five wins shy of tying former Buckeye Justin Kronauge (2007-10) for first on the OSU doubles wins list. In singles, Kobelt has notched 114 career wins and passed former Buckeye Mike Massie (1983-86) for ninth overall. He needs two victories to tie former Buckeyes Devin Mullings (2003-07) and Matt Allare (2008-11) for seventh on the singles list. On the combined career wins list, Kobelt sits at 242 victories, which is currently fourth-best all-time.
HOME, STREAK, HOME
The Ohio State men's tennis program had a big weekend March 28-30 when the squad broke the NCAA home winning streak record in Columbus. The Buckeyes won their 185th-consecutive home match with a 4-3 win over No. 28 Northwestern March 28, passing the Stanford women's program, who held the record for 12 years with 184-consecutive home wins.
The pairings of Hunter Callahan and Ralf Steinbach and No. 6 Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka claimed doubles wins. In singles play, Metka, Steinbach and Kobelt clinched straight-set victories to seal the record for the Buckeyes. On March 30, Ohio State battled No. 10 Illinois in a Top 10 clash to claim sole ownership of the Big Ten standings. Using new doubles pairings, Callahan and redshirt sophomore Chris Diaz and Metka and freshman Marko Goles Babic (Zagreb, Croatia) claimed the doubles points for the Buckeyes. In singles, Steinbach and Metka earned straight-set wins and Callahan provided the clinch in a three-set affair and extend the streak to 186-consecutive home wins. Freshman Herkko Pollanen ended the day with the biggest win of his young collegiate career, winning a three-set battle over No. 9 Jared Hiltzik.
B1G ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Peter Kobelt, the ninth-ranked player in singles and half of the second-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 on March 25. 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.
KOBELT NAMED MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER
Peter Kobelt was named was named Most Outstanding Player at the ITA Indoor Team Championships Feb. 21. Kobelt is the first Buckeye to receive the honor, which he achieved after winning seven of his eight matches in leading Ohio State to its first national indoor title. The senior went 3-1 at first singles during the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship. In doubles, paired with Kevin Metka, the duo went 4-0 over the weekend.
Joining Kobelt were three additional Buckeyes, including Ralf Steinbach, Kevin Metka and Hunter Callahan at singles No. 4-6, respectively. Kobelt and Metka were named to the doubles all-tournament team at No. 1.
Ohio State hosts No. 39 Tulsa at the Varsity Tennis Center at 6 p.m. April 11. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series, 2-0, against the Golden Hurricane with the last meeting in 2011. As always, admission is free.