After a whirlwind week that saw it defeat four top 15-ranked opponents in four days and rise to No. 1 in the ITA team rankings, the Ohio State men’s tennis team returned to action this weekend in another highly anticipated match at No. 10 Notre Dame.
Playing in their first match after winning the ITA Indoor National Championship Feb. 17, the top ranked Buckeyes (14-0, 0-0) traveled to South Bend, Ind., Saturday to take on the Fighting Irish (10-3, 0-1).
There might have been a bit of a hangover from the previous week’s success as the Buckeyes started out flat in doubles play.
Redshirt-sophomore Chris Diaz and redshirt-freshman Ralf Steinbach were off first, losing to the Irish duo of senior Ryan Bandy and sophomore Eric Schnurrenberger 7-5.
The Buckeyes’ No. 2-ranked duo of senior Peter Kobelt and redshirt-junior Kevin Metka evened things up with a 9-7 win over the No. 17 ranked team of senior Greg Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson. The Irish captured the point shortly after though, as senior Billy Pecor and freshman Josh Hagar beat OSU’s redshirt-junior Hunter Callahan and freshman Herkko Pollanen, 8-6.
After riding the doubles teams hard last weekend, and only having lost the doubles point twice in their previous 13 matches, the Buckeyes knew they had to shore up a few things up in singles play.
OSU got the message, winning the first set in four of their matches. Steinbach fell quickly to Bandy, 6-3, 6-3, to give the Irish a 2-0 lead, but it was all Buckeyes from that point on.
Callahan earned the Buckeyes’ first point, winning in straight sets against Schnurrenberger, 6-4, 6-4. It was his 12th consecutive win.
Diaz fought back from being down 5-2 in his first set to force a tiebreaker with sophomore Quentin Monaghan. Momentum was all his at that point as he won the break and went on to win 7-6, 6-4.
Metka went back in forth with freshman Eddy Covalschi before winning in a third set tiebreak, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, and leaving the Buckeyes one win away from clinching the match.
No. 23 Kobelt was the one who provided that point. In his match against No. 37 ranked Andrews, both players held serve every single time with each set heading to a tiebreak. After losing the first break, Kobelt took the next two, clinching the match with a 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 victory.
“It’s always exciting to clinch match point for your team, especially against a very good Notre Dame team,” Kobelt said after the match.
It was Notre Dame’s first home loss of the season and also the Buckeyes’ seventh straight win this season against a top 25 team.
The Buckeyes are next scheduled to head to Indiana Monday to open Big Ten play with a match against the Hoosiers. The match is set to start at 2 p.m.