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Doubles success playing key role for Ohio State men’s tennis

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Senior Kevin Metka prepares to hit the ball during a match against Purdue on April 12 at the Varsity Tennis Courts. OSU won, 4-0. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo Editor

Senior Kevin Metka prepares to hit the ball during a match against Purdue on April 12 at the Varsity Tennis Courts. OSU won, 4-0.
Credit: Mark Batke / Photo Editor

Ohio State men’s tennis has hit its stride with five wins in its past five matches.

Now with that hot streak on the line, the No. 11 Buckeyes have just two matches remaining on their regular-season slate.

The Buckeyes suffered their most recent loss at Illinois on March 29. Redshirt-sophomore Ralf Steinbach said OSU is looking forward to finishing the season strongly with a trip to Iowa on Friday followed by Nebraska on Sunday.

“Since we lost the game to Illinois that was kind of like a downer for us … So after that game we said we have to come back out (and) finish strong,” Steinbach said.

OSU sits at second in the Big Ten with an 8-1 conference record. This year’s Big Ten tournament is set to be held in Urbana, Ill.

The Buckeyes could be looking at a rematch against the Fighting Illini on their rivals’ home court once again, but they have to focus on the regular season before shifting attention to the postseason, coach Ty Tucker said.

“It’s important definitely to finish out this season and get ready for the postseason, but we need to be ready for a tough Iowa team and a good Nebraska team,” Tucker said.

Throughout the season, the Buckeyes have relied heavily on getting the doubles point in many matches. OSU boasts two ranked pairings with No. 4 redshirt-senior Kevin Metka and Steinbach and the duo of redshirt-senior Hunter Callahan and redshirt-junior Chris Diaz ranked at No. 80.

Tucker said OSU’s focus on winning in doubles won’t go away just yet.

“Very important to get the doubles point, it all starts in doubles,” he said. “Focus a good amount of practice (on doubles), especially the two days leading up to the match.”

Steinbach said the whole team understands how important doubles play is.

“That’s what we talk about a lot before every match,” he said. “We need the doubles point. We are all good doubles players and the coaches always rely on us.”

The Buckeyes will try to wrap up the season with two more wins this weekend before postseason play. Friday’s match against Iowa is slated to start at 7 p.m. and the match against Nebraska is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.

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