The Ohio State men’s tennis team’s record-breaking home-winning streak has ended at 200.
The No. 8 Buckeyes (12-4) fell, 4-3, to top-ranked Oklahoma (13-1) on Friday night at the Varsity Tennis Center, ending a streak that had lasted nearly 12 years.
After the match, OSU coach Ty Tucker said there weren’t “too many dry eyes” in the Buckeyes’ locker room, but commended his team for its effort overall.
“That was a great college tennis match as you can see with the environment and everything,” Tucker said. “The only thing that went wrong is it didn’t go our way.”
Tucker, who was the head man in Columbus for the duration of the streak, added that he couldn’t have asked for anything more from the players.
“Guys know what was at stake tonight and our guys put it all out on the court,” he said. “And if we put it all out on the court like that every time we play, that’s usually how we play tennis. Someone’s gotta beat us. As a coach, how can I be mad that a bunch of guys gave it everything they had?”
In a matchup that featured nine players with national rankings next to their names on the single’s lineup, everything came down to an unranked duo.
After the Buckeyes took two of three doubles matches to go ahead, 1-0, the Sooners fought back to take three of the first five singles matches. But long after OSU sophomore Herkko Pollanen lost on court three, redshirt-senior Kevin Metka and Oklahoma sophomore Florin Bragusi were still locked in a tight battle on court six.
Metka, a Worthington native, held the eyes of the OSU-record crowd of 713 after he forced a third set. Bragusi took a quick lead with a 7-6 victory, but Metka staved off multiple match points to win the second set by the same score.
In set three it was Bragusi’s turn to rally from multiple match points, and he eventually won the set, 7-6, after taking the tiebreaker, 7-5.
“Kevin didn’t do anything wrong,” Tucker said. “He (Bragusi) came up big.”
While Metka came up just short of a win at the end, Tucker said he felt Pollanen’s loss was a turning point in the match.
“The match got away from us at three singles, up a set 4-3, 40-15,” Tucker said. “That’s three (advantages) to essentially be one game from serving for the match. That’s a match we have to win.”
The Buckeyes’ last home loss before the streak came against Illinois in April 2003, which also happens to be the last time OSU played a top-ranked team at home before Friday.
OSU won’t have much time to reflect on the match as the Buckeyes get set to take on Florida in Gainesville, Fla., on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
With the streak in the rearview mirror, Tucker said it will be important for his players to bounce back in prepare for the Gators.
“We don’t have time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves because Florida’s not gonna feel sorry,” he said. “We’re beat up, got some guys cramping, got some guys hurting and we’ve gotta get on a plane Sunday morning ready to play in a tough environment in Florida on Tuesday.”