After falling in the NCAA Championships semifinals last season, some might have thought the Ohio State men’s tennis team would be in a rebuilding phase.
Just more than a month into the season, the Buckeyes are showing that is clearly not the case.
No. 5 OSU (12-0, 0-0) took down No. 1 Virginia (6-1, 1-0), 4-3, Sunday in the semifinals of the ITA National Men’s Indoor Championship in Houston. The Buckeyes are set to take on the No. 3-ranked University of Southern California Monday at 1 p.m. The Trojans took down No. 2 UCLA, 4-3, Sunday. Last season, the Buckeyes ended USC’s run of four straight NCAA Championships by defeating them, 4-3, in the NCAA quarterfinals.
The match against the Cavaliers went right down to the wire, and the score was tied heading into the final singles match between OSU redshirt-junior Kevin Metka and Virginia freshman Thai-Son Kwiatkowski.
All three sets in the final match had to be decided via tiebreakers, after Metka took the first 6-5 (7-5) and Kwiatkowski captured the second, 5-6 (5-7).
The final set of the match went even longer, but Metka was able to outlast Kwiatkowski, taking the final singles point after winning 6-5 (12-10).
“It was an incredible match,” OSU coach Ty Tucker said in a press release. “Both teams had chances to win it and our guys kept fighting no matter what the circumstances were at the moment. They wanted to win the match. It’s nice to beat the defending champs and it will take a huge effort by our guys tomorrow to bring home the trophy.”
Virginia took an early lead in the match after the Cavaliers earned the doubles point by winning the final two matches. Junior Mitchell Frank and freshman Luca Corinteli defeated OSU freshman Herkko Pollanen and redshirt-junior Hunter Callahan, 6-2, and sophomore Mac Styslinger and Kwiatkowski took down OSU redshirt-freshman Ralf Steinbach and redshirt-sophomore Chris Diaz 6-5 (7-1). Those two matches came after senior Peter Kobelt and Metka defeated seniors Alex Domijan and Justin Shane, 6-3.
The Buckeyes tied the match when Callahan defeated freshman Jordan Daigle, 6-3, 6-4, in the first match to finish.
The Cavaliers took the next two points after Shane beat Pollanen and Domijan took down Diaz, in their respective singles contests.
OSU battled back though, as Kobelt and then Steinbach defeated Frank and Shane respectively in further singles competition, setting the table for Metka and Kwiatkowski’s contest to be the one that would decide the match.
To advance to the semifinals against the Cavaliers, OSU defeated No. 12 Florida, 4-1, Friday and No. 10 Texas, 4-2, Saturday.