As the Ohio State men’s tennis team came together in a room at the indoor Varsity Tennis Center eagerly waiting to see where and who they play in the first round of the NCAA tournament, one person was missing.
That person was coach Ty Tucker. He was nervously pacing back and forth in his office.
“I’m not a fan of the whole selection thing,” Tucker said.
But as soon as the NCAA was ready to announce the brackets for the tournament, Tucker gave in and stood outside the door to await his team’s fate.
Once he heard the announcement that OSU would host Western Michigan, Tucker walked to his computer and began studying the Buckeyes’ first opponent in the NCAA tournament.
No. 4 OSU will face Western Michigan (21-10) at 1 p.m. on May 15 at the Stickney Tennis Center. As a reward for the their 32-1 season, the Buckeyes will host the first- and second-round matches.
“We’ve won a lot of matches at home so obviously we want to be at home,” Tucker said. “We’re looking forward to playing Western Michigan.”
The Buckeyes, whose only defeat this year came to top-seeded Virginia, have a few notable schools in their bracket, including Michigan, Illinois and defending champion Southern California, who defeated OSU in the finals last year.
“It’d be nice to get them back,” sophomore Chase Buchanan said. When asked if that was a match he wanted, Buchanan said, “definitely.”
Like most coaches, Tucker is not looking ahead. His main focus is Western Michigan.
“I know that they’ve won the MAC (Mid-American Conference) five years in a row,” Tucker said. “I know that teams that have won five championships in a row are used to winning.”
The Buckeyes go into the tournament as one of the favorites. Tucker said his team’s experience and realizing the importance of the doubles’ point are major factors.
“I’m sure Justin (Kronauge) will have these guys as a captain ready to play,” Tucker said. “They’ve got to come out understanding four, five, six minutes of great play can set up a win early on in the doubles’ point.”
The Buckeyes have done that all year, including having another undefeated season at home. Now, they have a shot to make another run.
“We have a lot of potential as well as many other teams in this tournament,” said Kronauge, OSU’s all-time wins leader. “Hopefully we fight harder and we prepare the next two weeks to get ready.”