Sarah Ignatz-Hoover / Lantern photographer
Most of he Ohio State men’s tennis team might already be back in Columbus after its weekend loss against UCLA, but two members of the team are still on the road chasing national championship dreams.
The No. 5-seeded Buckeyes were eliminated by No. 4 UCLA Saturday, 4-2, but senior Chase Buchanan and sophomore Blaz Rola remain in Athens, Ga., to compete in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships.
Rola and Buchanan received at-large selections for the singles tournament and, after posting a 30-4 record in doubles matches this season, will also team up for the doubles championship.
NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship action begins Wednesday in Athens at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex and will last throughout the day.
“We would like to be playing in the Final Four but it wasn’t in the cards for us,” said OSU coach Ty Tucker. “There was no shame losing to UCLA. We needed to be about 5 percent better in every spot.”
The Buckeyes finished the season with a 34-4 overall record and their quarterfinal berth marked their seventh consecutive NCAA quarterfinal appearance.
After Buchanan and Rola’s loss Saturday, the top-ranked doubles pair in the nation dropped an 8-6 decision to the No. 44-ranked doubles team from UCLA, made up of redshirt junior Alex Brigham and sophomore Adrien Puget.
Buchanan said while the loss was disappointing, the best thing to do is move on.
“You try to forget about it. You can’t take it too hard,” he said. “It was tough playing as my last time with the team, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play with Blaz.”
For the senior, looking forward was a bit easier than for the sophomore from Slovenia.
“It’s been tough. I didn’t regroup yesterday (Monday),” Rola said. “Not at dinner, I couldn’t talk in the press conference, but I slept through it – thank God – and I have some time to get ready.”
Tucker said both players have good momentum after the loss and Buchanan said he is preparing for his final opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the program.
“Mentally and physically, I have prepared all season. I took a day off yesterday,” he said. “There’s a lot of great teams and we need to prepare hard and take everyone seriously so we can come out on top.”
Though both players said they are sad to compete for the last time together, the nation’s top-seeded doubles pairing agreed they are still excited for the task ahead.
“It’s a great feeling to be the first seed, but I never go into a match thinking we’re No. 1 in the country,” Rola said. “Maybe I should, but I stay humble to keep the pressure away.”
Both players said they welcome the challenges presented by the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, as well.
“This atmosphere is intense,” Rola said. “It’s unbelievable. (It’s) the best place to play in college tennis.”