Courtesy of OSU athletic department
Standing at 6-foot-7, crushing a 135 mph serve and orchestrating a rise to the No. 1 rank in collegiate men’s tennis all while studying consumer and family financial services, you might say Peter Kobelt is a man of numbers.
Kobelt, a redshirt junior, seems to be quickly rising to the occasion when it comes to balancing his roles leading the Ohio State men’s tennis squad, completing his college degree and setting his sights on a professional tennis career.
It was not long after moving with his family to the Columbus suburb of New Albany in 1992 that Kobelt began to craft his tennis swing. Growing up, Kobelt said he was encouraged to try a variety of sports, but he ultimately stuck with tennis.
“I have to give my dad credit for (my tennis career). He’s been in the tennis business for 25 or 30 years now. He was a state champion in Wisconsin in doubles … he kind of molded me into a tennis player,” Kobelt said.
During high school, Kobelt was a two-sport athlete, excelling on the varsity basketball and tennis teams. He said the time split between the two sports caused his junior tennis ranking to suffer.
“I was kind of under the radar because I only played six months of tennis a year because of basketball, so a lot of schools didn’t really know about me,” Kobelt said.
When OSU coach Ty Tucker began recruiting, Kobelt was an asset that he said he could not ignore.
“The first thing you’re going to say is that the guy is 6-foot-7. You know that he’s going to have the ability to hold serve … he was the kind of guy you thought you could bring in for a year, redshirt, develop and he could get to one of the top 15, 20 players in college tennis,” Tucker said.
After a freshman season spent developing his skills, Kobelt spent the next two seasons becoming a major Buckeye contributor. By the end of his redshirt sophomore season, Kobelt had captured a pair of regional doubles championships and first team all-Big Ten honors.
Such success has landed him a No. 1 national rank in his redshirt junior season. The rank, Kobelt said, is an opportunity to recognize team success.
“All my teammates helped me get there, so I view it as a group effort. At the end of the day, it’s really just a number. Tennis is a game of numbers, and I don’t like that number. Every day, we just try to get better,” Kobelt said.
That concept is noticed by fellow members of OSU’s squad, said senior teammate Connor Smith.
“(Peter and I) have lived together ever since I met him, and he’s a good guy and a good teammate, too … (Peter) is good to rely on sometimes to pump (the energy) up,” Smith said. “Since (Peter and I) are older, we kind of rely on each other more. It’s a good give-and-take.”
Tucker said the progress made in Kobelt’s game since coming to OSU is what has garnered the respect of his coaches and teammates.
“The guys see a guy that was ranked 65 in the country for 18-year-olds and now as a junior is ranked No. 1 in college … it shows that if you put that type of work in, you can get to some good things,” Tucker said.
Now, with only 13 credit hours remaining before being able to graduate with his degree, Kobelt is beginning to map out his plans to play tennis professionally.
“I put a lot of time and effort into tennis, and I feel like it would be a mistake to just give it all up right away. I’ve always wanted to see the world,” Kobelt said. “It would be really neat to do something I loved and to see the world.”
Professional aspirations aside, Kobelt said he couldn’t be more satisfied with playing high-level tennis for the school he calls his “first love.”
“It’s an honor and a privilege to play for the Buckeyes,” he said. “I probably really don’t know how special it is right now, but looking back later in life, I’ll be truly grateful I had this opportunity.”