The Ohio State men’s tennis team opened up the 2010 NCAA tournament this past weekend at home, downing both Western Michigan and Michigan to advance to the field of 16.
The No. 4-ranked Buckeyes opened play Saturday afternoon against the Mid-American Conference Tournament champion Broncos and made quick work of their opponent, winning 4-0.
Despite a 12-day layoff, OSU was able to grind it out early and come out on top in the end, advancing to take on Big Ten rival Michigan in the second round on Sunday.
“Whenever you have a block of two weeks or so when you don’t play, it’s rough,” OSU coach Ty Tucker said. “It’s always difficult to see how they are going to be out there but the guys responded well.”
The Buckeyes returned to the Stickney Tennis Center on Sunday afternoon in front of a packed house to take on the Wolverines.
Coming off Saturday’s win in which Tucker said the Bucks were able to “shake the rust off,” his team came out strong on Sunday, grabbing the doubles point to take an early 1-0 lead.
While juniors Matt Allare and Balazs Novak were able to garner the first two singles points with relative ease, the four other singles matches were dog fights.
“Michigan always plays us tough,” Tucker said. “Bruce Berque always has his guys ready to play, they love the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, and it was a battle out there.”
After Michigan snagged its first point, freshman Dino Marcan gutted out his three-set match 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 and clinched the OSU victory, 4-1.
“I was kind of excited that I was able to clinch it,” Marcan said. “I always like to rely on my teammates when I am not doing well, but it was pretty exciting to clinch it.”
With the win, the Buckeyes will head to the University of Georgia on Friday for the round of 16 and the chance to take on another Big Ten foe, the Wisconsin Badgers.
Although Tucker’s team was just one match away from a national title a year ago, he said his team’s focus goes no further than its next match.
“The expectation is to play as good as we can against Wisconsin and see where that takes us,” he said.
Tucker said he is confident in his team’s ability and resiliency.
“I feel comfortable that our guys come to play. They battle and compete and do what they have to do to win the matches,” Tucker said. “I haven’t seen a Buckeye yet rollover for even five minutes.”