The first Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings have the Buckeyes at No. 5, but the Ohio State men’s tennis team is focusing more on spring goals than rankings.
“We’ve been (top) five (in the) preseason ever since I’ve been here,” redshirt-senior Hunter Callahan said. “Preseason doesn’t really matter because it’s preseason.”
The Ohio State men’s tennis team is set to open up its season on Sunday with matches against Northern Kentucky and Youngstown State at the USTA Futures tournament before taking part in the ITA Kickoff Weekend starting Jan. 24.
Chris Diaz, a redshirt-junior, is coming into the season individually ranked at 21 but said his attitude is more about “winning as a team” than picking up more individual accolades.
“We just focus on winning every match,” Diaz said. “If we aren’t ranked or if we’re ranked top 10, it doesn’t really matter as long as we win the matches.”
With five freshmen — including two redshirt-freshmen — on the team, Callahan said it’s important to “get everyone on the same page.”
Diaz agreed and said having a team mindset rather than an individual one is important for the younger players.
“It’s also a pretty big transition for them,” he said. “You’re playing for something a lot bigger in the spring, every match matters not just for yourself but for the team … definitely a different mindset.”
Each player has their own goals for this spring, but they all have a couple of common ones, too.
Callahan said he’s hoping to win the Big Ten title beyond anything else.
“That’s why we play for Ohio State, to win the Big Ten,” he said. “Obviously we have other goals, for me that would be No. 1 right now.”
Diaz agreed that winning the Big Ten is the first goal, but added, “We haven’t won an outdoor championship ever so that’s definitely a big goal for us.”
The Buckeyes open this spring having won 191 consecutive home matches and will attempt to continue that streak Sunday against the Norse at noon at the Varsity Indoor Tennis Center. The match against Youngstown State is set for 6 p.m.