Mark Batke / Lantern photographer
The longest home win streak in all of NCAA sports turned 10 years old Friday.
The Ohio State men’s tennis team defeated Wisconsin, 7-0, and extended its home win streak to 10 years, exactly a decade after its last loss.
The 164-match win streak is the longest active win streak in all NCAA Division 1 athletics, with the most recent loss in Columbus dating back to April 5, 2003 against Illinois.
“To do something you can hold onto for the rest of my life…it’s something that might never be broken at Ohio State, a place rich in athletics and tradition,” coach Ty Tucker said.
The No. 5 Buckeyes (22-2, 6-0) continued to prove their dominance in the Big Ten over the past decade, where the team has captured seven-consecutive regular season crowns (2006-12) and tacked on six more Big Ten tournament titles (2006-11).
The Badgers (10-8, 1-5) never amassed a point on Friday night against the record-breaking Buckeyes.
OSU athletic director Gene Smith was in attendance for the feat and heaped praise on Tucker, who has coached the team since 1999.
“Ty (Tucker) is an outstanding recruiter, he’s a good teacher, he recruits great kids…one day he’ll win a national championship – I believe that. It’s just a matter of the bounce of the ball here and there…to say that in Ohio, you could possibly win the national championship in tennis is significant,” Smith said.
“I love these kids, they’re great kids, and Ty is one of our best coaches. Having the opportunity to come and support him in this moment…it’s a special thing, it really is.”
The Scarlet and Grey dominated in the doubles game against Wisconsin, sealing victories on all three courts. The OSU tandems of junior Blaz Rola and redshirt sophomore Kevin Metka, redshirt senior Devin McCarthy and junior Ille Van Engelen, and redshirt junior Peter Kobelt and senior Connor Smith defeated their Wisconsin opponents 8-3, 8-1 and 8-6, respectively. It was the 24th time during the 2013 campaign that OSU had won the doubles point.
In the singles game, the Buckeyes continued its dominance, as OSU shutout the Badgers.
The three singles wins needed to clinch the team victory came from freshman Constantin Christ (6-1, 6-0), Rola (6-2, 6-3), and redshirt sophomore Hunter Callahan (6-4, 6-2). Callahan’s win was the third time he has clinched a victory for OSU this season.
The remaining three singles matches ended in similar fashion for OSU, with Kobelt winning 6-3, 6-4, Van Engelen winning 6-4, 6-2, and McCarthy winning 6-3, 6-4.
Following the match, several upperclassmen players reflected on contributing to such a historic program milestone.
“10 years is a great accomplishment. As players, I feel like we can all take a deep breath of relief and continue on with the rest of our season. It was one of our goals to get to this streak, but we have other goals that we would say are more important – winning the Big Ten and maybe making a run in the NCAA (tournament),” Kobelt said.
Some players, like Rola, said how grateful they were to continue the legacy that many famous OSU tennis players have left behind.
“I’m probably just a little, little part of this elite group…it’s just really a team effort through all those (10) years…everyone who comes (to OSU) should be honored and proud to play here,” Rola said.
Tucker said a key to building – and sustaining such success – was in part thanks to attracting all types of talent to play at OSU.
“To look back on everything-we had a nice mix. We had the best players from Ohio, guys that became All-Americans, guys that overachieved,” he said. “We splashed some good international talent in with them, and they seemed to like each other and have a good time.”
Immediately following Friday’s win against the Badgers, Tucker joined his team on the courts of the Varsity Tennis Center and enjoyed a lighthearted celebration before narrowly escaping an attempted Gatorade bath from a group of his players.
But it was not long before Tucker allowed himself to return to business as usual.
“There’s still a lot of work left to do in the season, and we’ve got to get refocused…but the guys should enjoy (the win) right now.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to continue Big Ten play against Minnesota Sunday at noon at the Varsity Tennis Center.