Ohio State men's tennis preps for playoffs
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 23:06
The Ohio State men’s tennis team has passed another milestone.
With Monday’s win against Michigan, the team clinched its seventh-consecutive outright Big Ten regular-season title.
The victory also extended the team’s home winning streak to 146 consecutive games.
The last time the team was not the conference champion, former Buckeye Mike Nugent was drafted to the NFL and George W. Bush was inaugurated for his second term as president of the United States.
Under coach Ty Tucker, the Buckeyes have never finished below fourth in the regular-season conference standings.
“I don’t ever even think about it,” Tucker said. “Everybody is going to give you their best shot. The (sports information director) here, they put it in the first two lines of every release that we’ve got a win streak, believe me, people are hungry to beat us.”
Tucker said he wasn’t thinking about streaks, though. He said his biggest concern was about the weather heading into the postseason.
The breeze could be a factor in the Big Ten Tournament and the heat could become an issue the deeper the team advances in the NCAA Tournament, Tucker said.
“In tennis, the wind is a huge equalizer,” Tucker said. “So if you get caught outside playing in 45-degree weather and 30-mile-per-hour winds, anything can kind of happen.”
The Big Ten Tournament is held at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., on the edge of the Lake Michigan. Tournament play begins Thursday.
The Buckeyes’ 11-0 record in the Big Ten earned them a first-round bye in the tournament. They will face the winner of Wisconsin and Nebraska on Friday.
With the postseason right around the corner, senior Chase Buchanan ended the season with the most doubles wins at 36. The regular season could be summed up as “close,” Buchanan said.
“We’ve lost two matches by as close as you could lose two matches,” Buchanan said. “But that also means that we’re that close to winning.”
The first of those losses came to No. 1-ranked USC and the second was to No. 4-ranked Georgia. Both matches ended, 4-3.
Sophomore Blaz Rola enters the tournament with the most singles wins from the regular season at 29. The Slovenia-native is used to playing on clay courts which produce a higher bounce on the ball.
The transition from clay courts to hard courts was tough at the beginning of his career, Rola said.
“This was part of the reason of why I came here,” Rola said. “My main surface was clay court and I needed to get better on the hard courts.”
Rola said he plans to play professionally after his career with the Buckeyes.
The team finishes the season ranked No. 3 and enters the Big Ten Tournament with 90-consecutive wins against Big Ten opponents, which includes the regular season and Big Ten Tournament combined.