Similar to Ohio State’s brutal football defeat to the University of Southern California in September, the men’s tennis team lost 3-1 Tuesday at the first national championship in Buckeye tennis history.
The third-seeded Buckeyes put up a fight in College Station, Texas, but fell short against the eighth-seeded and Pac Ten Doubles Team of the Year, USC, who claimed their fifth NCAA title.
Head coach and three-time Big Ten Coach of the year Ty Tucker said the team gave it all they could.
“It’s a sad day for us,” Tucker said. “We worked extremely hard to get here and definitely wanted to prove that we could win.”
He said the team suffered greatest from its doubles play.
“If we just got one extra match, that is all we would’ve needed,” he said.
Junior Justin Kronauge said that despite the doubles loss, the Buckeyes still had a good chance to win.
“We beat ourselves at some positions and thought we had an advantage but did not,” he said.
He said they were battling a difficult opponent after a long, tough match the day before when the Buckeyes defeated UCLA 4-3.
“The guys were just banged up a bit, and I think that may have caused them to not perform at their highest level,” Tucker said.
He said he was mainly disappointed for his seniors who were “big-time people for the Big Ten.”
No. 3 -ranked player and senior Bryan Koniecko said that although he is a little upset, he and his team made OSU history.
“There’s a bright side to every story and even if this one ends with another big OSU loss against USC, we went were no tennis team here has ever gone before,” Koniecko said.
He said he is looking forward to the Individual Tournament coming up, and said the championship loss won’t discourage the team.
“We have a good freshman who did not play his best this time, but with all the young talent, our team’s in good hands,” he said.
Players from Midwestern tennis teams sometimes have trouble competing in warmer climates, but Tucker said the Texas heat was not a major factor. He wore the gray sweatpants he dons at all the men’s tennis matches, but said this time, as the season ends, he is going to burn the pants instead of wash them.
Koniecko said Tucker’s passion and determination are what got the team so far this year.
“He really knows how to develop players,” he said. “That’s what he’s done with this program in the last 10 years, and he’ll continue to take Ohio State’s tennis to new heights.”
Heather Hope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.