The nation’s top-ranked men’s collegiate tennis team keeps on rolling.
No. 1 Ohio State won two more matches over the weekend to push its record to 25-3 overall and perfect in Big Ten play, beating Tulsa Friday at home and Purdue Sunday at home, each by a score of 4-3.
In doubles play against the Boilermakers (15-4, 7-2), the Buckeyes came out on fire.
Senior Peter Kobelt and redshirt-freshman Ralf Steinbach of OSU crushed Purdue senior Szymon Tatarczyk and freshman Ricky Medinilla, 8-1, while redshirt-junior Kevin Metka and freshman Herkko Pollanen whipped senior Mark Kovacs and sophomore Mateus Silva, 8-2.
The point the Buckeyes gained from the doubles victories proved vital as singles play was much more evenly split.
Kobelt got the better of Tatarczyk again, winning 6-1, 6-1, and redshirt-junior Hunter Callahan prevailed against Silva 6-4, 6-0, to put the Buckeyes only one win away from capturing the match.
The Boilermakers would not yield, though.
Kovacs downed Buckeye redshirt-sophomore Chris Diaz 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, and junior Diego Acosta beat Steinbach 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), to pull Purdue within one.
Pollanen quickly finished off the Boilermakers though, defeating Medinilla 6-3, 6-3, to get the Buckeyes one step closer to an outright conference title.
Metka eventually fell to senior Aaron Dujovne to put the final score at 4-3 Buckeyes.
Friday evening against the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa (12-12, 10-5), the Buckeyes had another tough match on their hands, but ultimately prevailed. OSU coach Ty Tucker said after the match he believes the wear and tear of the season might be getting to his team.
“We’ve been struggling. We’re a little beat up,” Tucker said. “When you use the same six guys for 30 matches in a row, guys are bumped and bruised and there’s two or three guys at 75 percent. All you can hope is that they keep hearting it out.”
OSU was able to win the doubles point on the strength of the second and third teams.
Metka and Pollanen were off first and took down sophomore Carlos Bautista and freshman Daniel Santos, 8-4.
Kobelt and Steinbach fell to redshirt-senior Clifford Marsland and sophomore Dylan McCloskey, 8-6, to square things up.
Callahan and Diaz took care of business, though, and beat senior Japie De Klerk and junior Alejandro Espejo, 8-5, to earn OSU the point.
Since shuffling with the doubles lineup, Callahan and Diaz have shown strong chemistry on the court that could keep them together the rest of the season.
“I think we feel pretty comfortable together,” Diaz said after the match about playing with Callahan. “We just try have fun out there. We played a little in the fall so that’s helped a lot.”
Moving to singles, Kobelt got things started with a solid 6-1, 6-3 win against De Klerk and Steinbach cruised in straight sets against freshman Or Ram-Harel, 6-3, 6-0.
Marsland defeated Pollanen 6-2, 6-3 to get the Golden Hurricane on the board. They also were up a set on Diaz and Metka to give them some life.
But then Callahan came to the rescue for the Buckeyes.
Staying on serve through the first eight games of his first set against Bautista, Callahan broke serve in the ninth and held his own serve to take the set. He broke Bautista’s serve early on in the second and kept his foot on the gas to clinch the match with a 6-4, 6-2, victory.
After breaking serve, Callahan knew he had to execute to keep things in his and the Buckeyes’ advantage.
“The pressure was on still. I looked on the scoreboard and we were down some sets,” Callahan said afterwards. “I had to win that game.”
The Buckeyes are next scheduled to return to action at home against Iowa April 18. First serve is set for 6 p.m.