The Ohio State men’s tennis team was selected as the No. 4 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday evening. The Buckeyes (30-2) will take on Ball State (15-14) at home in the tournament’s first round.
“It’s an honor to be seeded at all,” senior co-captain Matt Allare said about the selection.
Fellow senior co-captain Balazs Novak said the team was “kind of expecting to be seeded third.”
The selection gives OSU its 11th straight appearance in the championship.
Of the 64 teams that make up the 2011 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship Tournament, OSU was one of 31 teams that automatically qualified into the tournament because it won its conference championship.
The team’s first match of the tournament is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 13 at the Stickney Tennis Center, or the OSU Varsity Tennis Center in the event of inclement weather.
If the Buckeyes win, they will move onto the second round against the winner of the Notre Dame and East Tennessee State match, also to be hosted by OSU, at 1 p.m. on May 14.
“We need to focus on the first two rounds,” Novak said. “Since we’re not one or two the pressure isn’t as great; we’re like the black sheep.”
The No. 4 seed isn’t as much of a pressure-adder as it is a challenger, said senior co-captain Shuhei Uzawa.
The Buckeyes have made it to the quarterfinals of the tournament in each of the past five years. This year’s team hopes to make it even further.
“We’re just hoping to make it past (the quarterfinals),” Allare said. “We just want to get out of Columbus.”
He added, however, that there are a lot of good teams in the tournament.
“Virginia hasn’t been beaten at all, and USC are the back-to-back champions,” he said.
Virginia is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Southern California and Tennessee.
“We just need to give everything we’ve got,” Uzawa said.
Although the team may be facing what it said is tough competition, Novak summed up the team’s goal two words: “Win it.”
The last 16 teams left in the competition will head to Stanford, Calif., to compete in the last rounds of the tournament May 19–24 at the Taube Tennis Center.
If the Buckeyes win the championship, they will be the first men’s tennis team in the history of the school to bring home an NCAA championship.