Courtesy of Ohio State athletic department
The Ohio State men’s tennis team once again proved its dominance at home during the spring season opener this week, winning its doubleheader against Butler and Xavier, 7-0 and 6-1, respectively.
The Buckeyes (2-0), which are ranked No. 4 in the country by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, headed into its matches against the Bulldogs and the Musketeers carrying not only the longest active home win streak in Division I men’s tennis with 150 consecutive wins in Columbus, but also boasting a perfect 26-0 all-time record against Butler and Xavier combined.
But redshirt freshman Chris Diaz said coaches and players alike did not intend on overlooking the Bulldog or Musketeers squads heading into Wednesday’s matchup.
“We have to take everyone seriously … (Butler and Xavier) get better every year, so we can’t really focus on the past,” Diaz said. “Every match is tough, and we’ll just have to take one at a time.”
The Buckeyes did not appear to disappoint.
Against Xavier, Buckeyes swept in doubles play, and went 5-1 overall in the singles game. Doubles play against the Musketeers featured production from the tandems of redshirt sophomores Kevin Metka and Hunter Callahan, redshirt senior Devin McCarthy and junior Ille Van Engelen, and redshirt junior Peter Kobelt and senior Connor Smith.
All won in dominating fashion with 8-1, 8-4, and 8-5 victories, respectively.
Singles play against the Musketeers was the only upset to an otherwise flawless doubleheader when Van Engelen fell 6-4, 6-2 in his match, following a 7-5, 6-3 win from Kobelt, the No. 1-ranked singles player in the country.
OSU was quick to bounce back from Van Engelen’s loss with four consecutive wins from McCarthy, 6-3, 6-3, Diaz, 6-3, 6-2, Smith, 6-2, 6-2, and Christ, 6-2, 6-4. The singles victories lifted the Buckeyes to a 6-1 win.
Earlier in the day, OSU disposed of Butler by a similar margin of victory.
Leading the way against the Bulldogs was Kobelt. The New Albany native clinched his singles match with a 6-3, 6-2 victory and later added an 8-4 doubles victory alongside Smith.
Other notable Buckeye contributors included McCarthy and Van Engelen, who clinched an 8-2 victory. Metka and Callahan rounded out doubles play with an 8-3 win.
In singles play against the Bulldogs, Van Engelen clinched a shutout victory, followed by Buckeye veterans Smith and Callahan securing individual singles wins to put the Buckeyes up 5-0. McCarthy took his singles matchup into a first-set tiebreaker but ultimately edged out a victory, 7-6 (6), 6-2.
Freshman Constantin Christ saw his first action as a Buckeye against Butler, easily coasting to a 6-3, 6-2 victory and bringing the final score to 7-0 in OSU’s favor.
“In the beginning, I was really nervous because it was my first college match … but in the end, I won, and that’s the important thing,” Christ said.
After the day’s matches, coaches said the team was focusing on the long road ahead.
“We saw a few things we could still improve on, but the energy is good and everyone is feeling healthy, so we can’t complain,” said assistant coach Bryan Koniecko. “We’ve got a long season ahead of us, and our goal is to keep getting better and peak at the NCAA tournament.”
The Buckeyes continue regular season play Jan. 24 with a home doubleheader against Youngstown State and Cleveland State at the Varsity Tennis Center.