When an athlete posts multiple school records by the end of their college career, it would be expected to be hard to say goodbye.
But for the Ohio State men’s tennis team, that goodbye became a new beginning.
Former Buckeye tennis player, Justin Kronauge, is in his second year as the team’s assistant coach after completing one of the most illustrious athletic careers in the team’s history.
Kronauge ended his playing career with the most single wins (147), most doubles wins (128) and most combined wins with 275 total victories for the Buckeyes, but still is as humble as can be.
“I don’t even look at that stuff,” Kronauge said. “With such a good program like Ohio State, it’s an honor to hold those records.”
Graduating with a degree in finance in 2010, Kronauge turned to coaching.
The two-time All-American searched for a position on traveling and lower-level professional teams, but said he knew the atmosphere of the college game was the right fit for him, and the assistant coaching spot at OSU was calling.
With a streak of seven straight Big Ten titles on the line, Kronauge said he is focused on preparing his team for the postseason.
“Last year was our sixth straight, I’ve been a part of all of those,” Kronauge said. “It was special being on other end coaching, and making it to the Final Four of NCCAs last year was pretty exciting too.”
Redshirt junior Devin McCarthy said he was happy to see Kronauge hired as an assistant coach for the team. McCarthy was a freshman when Kronauge was a senior for the Buckeyes and understood the honor it is to be coached by his former teammate.
“It’s great to be able to go to someone who knows what you’re going through, he understands me as a player,” McCarthy said. “You look at his accolades, it’s pretty easy to listen to someone who has accomplished what he has.”
Being a part of the team for four years, it was a pretty easy transition to becoming a coach, Kronauge said.
“I feel like the guys had some respect from playing with me,” Kronauge said. “I grew up with some of them. They might give me a little harder time, but it’s alright, it’s give and take.”
The team has won 143-consecutive home matches and 84-consecutive Big Ten victories with a win against the Minnesota Golden Gophers April 8, but the team doesn’t talk about the streaks, McCarthy said.
“We don’t really want to jinx things,” McCarthy said. “We don’t want to be known as the team that lost it for all the guys like Justin. We are all working harder to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Kronauge has witnessed players in similar situations while playing for the Buckeyes, adding he is glad he can help guide them through it.
“There was a lot of tight situations I was in when I was player,” Kronauge said. “I think my experience helps, and I can talk them through it.”
Former teammate and senior Steven Williams described his coach as serious, respectful and hard working.
“He has been able to balance being friends with the guys between playing and it being business,” Williams said. “He always had respect because he always kept it professional and looking out for the guys.”
Kronauge competed in some lower-level professional tournaments across South America and the United States, but said he wishes to keep coaching in the future.