Connor Smith paces the Buckeyes in singles victories with 32.
April 24, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio- The reigning eight-time Big Ten regular-season champion and No. 4 Ohio State men's tennis team (28-2, 11-0 Big Ten) will look to win its seventh Big Ten tournament in eight years as they play host to the conference tournament from April 25-28 for the first time since 2002.
The Buckeyes earned the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye after going 11-0 in Big Ten play to capture their eighth-consecutive regular season title. Ohio State will play the winner between No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 9 Purdue at 9 a.m. Friday.
Big Ten Network will air the championship match on tape delay at 7 p.m. May 6.
Buckeyes in the Big Ten Tournament
Under 14-year head coach Ty Tucker, Ohio State has won seven Big Ten tournament titles, including Tucker’s first in 2001 and six-consecutive from 2006-11. Overall, Ohio State has been crowned tournament champions eight times, with the lone title not under Tucker coming in 1991. The Buckeyes were foiled in their attempt for seven-consecutive tournament titles in 2012 by third-seeded Illinois 4-3. Heading into the match, the Scarlet and Gray had defeated Illinois in five out of the previous six tournament finals.
2012, Illinois def. Ohio State, 4-3, in Evanston, Ill.
2011, Ohio State def. Minnesota, 4-0, in Madison, Wis.
2010, Ohio State def. Illinois, 4-1, in Bloomington, Ind.
2009, Ohio State def. Illinois, 4-3, in Ann Arbor, Mich.
2008, Ohio State def. Illinois, 4-3, in Iowa City, Iowa
2007, Ohio State def. Illinois, 4-1, in West Lafayette, Ind.
2006, Ohio State def. Illinois, 4-2, in Minneapolis, Minn.
First Round Byes
Ohio State locked up the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye with a perfect conference record of 11-0. Each of the Top 4 seeds in the tournament received first-round byes and begin play in the quarterfinals Friday. Minnesota earned the second seed after finishing the regular season 9-2 in conference matches and 13-9 overall. The Gophers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over third-seed Michigan (14-8, 9-2 Big Ten). Illinois follows closely with the No. 4 seed after posting an 8-3 mark in Big Ten play and 15-9 overall record.
In a Nutshell
• Ohio State is 28-2 overall, including an 11-0 record in Big Ten Conference play and a 17-0 ledger in Columbus.
• The Buckeyes improved to 342-44 (.886) since 2001 as a Top 25 team. Ohio State is 110-49 (.692) since 2000 vs. Top 25 programs.
- Ohio State has posted a 16-2 record vs. ranked competition in 2013.
• Following their win vs. Michigan State, the Scarlet and Gray extended their home win streak to 167 matches. The Buckeyes’ last loss at home was a 5-2 setback vs. Illinois April 5, 2003.
• Ohio State has shut out 18 of its opponents in 2013.
• Against Michigan April 14, the Buckeyes earned their 28th doubles victory.
• Senior Connor Smith leads the Buckeyes in singles wins with 32. Redshirt junior Peter Kobelt is second on the team with 31 and third is freshman Chris Diaz with 29. The trio’s overall records are, 32-6, 31-7 and 29-4, respectively.
• The Buckeyes are earning impressive victories from two freshmen at No. 5 and No. 6 singles. Redshirt freshman Chris Diaz is 15-1 at No. 5 singles., while true freshman Constantin Christ is 14-0 on court No. 6.
• In doubles action, the duo of Devin McCarthy and Ille Van Engelen are a team-best 23-2 overall. The tandem has posted a 16-2 record at No. 2 doubles and a 6-0 mark at the top position. Blaz Rola and Kevin Metka remain perfect on the season with a 19-0 overall ledger. All 19 wins by Rola and Metka have come at No. 3 doubles.
• Redshirt sophomore Kevin Metka has posted an Ohio State best 28-2 overall record in doubles, which includes a 25-1 ledger in dual play. Metka is 23-0 at No. 3 doubles.
Season in Review
Ohio State began the season 8-0, including hosting an ITA Kick-Off Weekend event. The undefeated start was highlighted by a 5-2 win over No. 4 Georgia in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes suffered their first set back of the season in their first road test, a 4-3 loss to No. 12 Texas A&M. The Scarlet and Gray rebounded nicely with a 4-0 victory over 13th-ranked California in the opening round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. Ohio State then defeated No. 5 Pepperdine 4-0 in round two before suffering its second loss of the season, a 4-3 decision in favor of No. 1 Virginia, in the semifinal. Since that loss Feb. 17, the Buckeyes have won 18 consecutive matches and finished the season with a 28-2 overall record (16-2 vs. ranked competition).
Decade of Dominance
Then-fifth-ranked Ohio State beat Wisconsin, 7-0 April 5 at the Varsity Tennis Center to extend a historic home winning streak to a decade and 165-consecutive wins. The streak now consists of 167 consecutive wins in Columbus and continues to be the longest active home winning streak in all NCAA Division I sports.
During the streak and under the guidance of Ty Tucker, who was named head coach of the men's tennis team in 1999, the Scarlet and Gray have qualified for the NCAA Team Championships each season, advancing as far as the national championship match in 2009 as well as the semifinals in 2011 and the quarterfinals in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012. Additionally, Ohio State has amassed a 108-4 (.964) regular-season record vs. Big Ten opponents since the start of the 2003 season.
Tradition of Excellence
Since becoming a varsity program in 1912, there have been eight Buckeyes ranked No. 1 in the country (six singles players and two doubles teams). All eight student-athletes who have achieved the status of a No. 1 ranking in the ITA polls have come under head coach Ty Tucker’s tutelage. This fraternity of student-athletes ranked as the best player or players in the country, in descending chronological order, consists of Peter Kobelt (No. 1 singles 2013), Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola (No. 1 ranked doubles team 2012), Rola (No. 1 singles 2012), Buchanan (No. 1 singles in 2011), Steven Moneke (No. 1 singles 2009), Bryan Koniecko (No. 1 singles 2008), Scott Green and Ross Wilson (No. 1 doubles 2006) and Jeremy Wurtzman (No. 1 singles 2004).
Big Ten Athletes of the Week
Four times this season, a Buckeye has earned Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors. Blaz Rola, a junior from Ptuj, Slovenia, collected his first conference accolade of the season the week of Feb. 20 and second the week of April 10. The laurels were Rola’s eighth and ninth of his career. Two other Buckeyes earned the honors for the first times in their careers, Peter Kobelt the week of Feb. 27 and Devin McCarthy the week of March 20.
On the season, Rola owns a record of 21-1 in singles and 25-0 ledger in doubles. Kobelt is 31-7 and 25-4 in singles and doubles, respectively. McCarthy has notched 23 singles victories against only two losses as well as a 24-2 doubles record. The three combine for 149 wins, including 18 total victories over ranked opponents, and combined records of 75-10 (.882) in singles and 74-6 (.925) in doubles.
Class of 2012-13
The 2012-13 class of Devin McCarthy, Connor Smith and Ille Van Engelen represented the Scarlet and Gray for the last time in a regular-season home match and were recognized post-match April 19 vs. Michigan State.
McCarthy has twice been named second-team All-Big Ten in 2011 and 2012 and currently is 14th (tied) on the all-time Ohio State career singles wins list with 99 victories. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native also has climbed the career doubles wins list this season and is currently 17th with 76. The combined win total for McCarthy’s career so far is 175, which ranks in a tie for 13th all-time at Ohio State. McCarthy also is on the all-time single-season doubles wins lists. McCarthy was recognized as a Big Ten Medal of Honor Finalist, which honors a student-athlete who has attained the greatest proficiency in both academics and athletics, at the annual Scholar-Athlete banquet three weeks ago.
Smith transferred to Ohio State after his sophomore season and although the Tampa, Fla., native has played for the Scarlet and Gray for only two years, he has left his mark on the program. Smith boasted 32 doubles wins in 2012, his first season as a Buckeye. For an encore, Smith has posted 32 singles victories in 2013.
Van Engelen has amassed a 49-17 career singles record and a 64-13 career doubles ledger. The junior from Eindhoven, Netherlands, had the most successful doubles campaign of his career in 2012 when he won 35 matches to tie for ninth on the single-season doubles wins list. Additionally, Van Engelen was an Ohio State Scholar-Athlete in 2011, First Team All-Big Ten selection in 2011 and Second Team All-Big Ten in 2012.
Reviewing the Badgers and Boilermakers
Wisconsin finished 4-7 in B1G play and 12-11 overall. Ohio State leads the all-time series with Wisconsin 40-31. This season, the Buckeyes defeated the Badgers 7-0 in Columbus April 5.
Purdue finished the season with a 16-11 overall record, including 3-8 mark in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes are 57-16 (.780) all-time vs. the Boilermakers, including a 14-0 record under head coach Ty Tucker. This season, Ohio State shut out Purdue 7-0 in Columbus March 22.
Five Buckeyes are ranked in the Top 100 of the ITA individual standings released April 23. Peter Kobelt paces the Buckeyes with a No. 9 ranking, while Blaz Rola is No. 12. Connor Smith is polled 67th and Devin McCarthy is No. 88. Chris Diaz rounds out the ranked group at No. 95.
In doubles, Kobelt and Smith are ranked in the Top 20 at No. 14. The pair of Rola and Kevin Metka is ranked 46th, while McCarthy and Ille Van Engelen are No. 75.
In addition to Ohio State's official athletics web site, OhioStateBuckeyes.com, fans can follow all the action via Twitter. The men's tennis team's official handle @OhioState_MTEN provides the latest news and notes as they happen.