Lindsey Fox / Lantern photographer
As the Ohio State men’s tennis team enters its last team competition of the 2010–11 season Friday, its three graduating seniors look to lead their team one final time during the NCAA Team Championship Tournament.
Senior co-captains Matt Allare, Shuhei Uzawa and Balazs Novak spent the past four years building their leadership skills both on and off the court.
“They’re class acts,” coach Ty Tucker said of the trio after the team’s last regular-season match. “They were taught by the guys who came before them, and they really stepped up this season.”
All three seniors played doubles this season, but Allare and Novak played singles as well in almost every match they played.
Allare was selected last week as one of four Buckeyes who will compete in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Tournament from May 25–30. He is an at-large selection in singles and in doubles with his partner, redshirt freshman Peter Kobelt.
Freshman Blaz Rola and junior Chase Buchanan also were selected to play in the singles and doubles championship. Each will play singles in addition to acting as a doubles partner.
After OSU had technically won the Big Ten season title in its match against Indiana, Novak didn’t talk about his individual performance when describing the match.
“Everyone fought hard and everyone tried their best,” he said following the match. “I’m proud of them.”
Allare said at one point during the season that he was “more concerned” with the team as a whole and wanted to win his matches just to benefit the team.
In keeping with that spirit, these seniors would like to leave a legacy behind by bringing home OSU’s first-ever men’s tennis national title.
“I can’t even put into words what that would mean,” Allare said.
It would mean everything, Novak said.
Uzawa agreed with both of his teammates.
Allare said his underclassman teammates would be just as excited to win the championship “but they have three more years to let it soak in.”
“We just need to focus on the first two rounds,” Novak said. “Since we’re not one or two the pressure is not as great.”
But Allare added that if they lose, the team is out, meaning their hopes of bringing home the championship are over.
“We just need to give it everything we’ve got,” Uzawa said.
Whether they win or lose, these seniors will have left a legacy of skill and leadership with the OSU program.
“They’ve been great guys,” Tucker said. “We’re gonna miss them.”