The Ohio State’s men’s tennis team has dominated the Big Ten for roughly a decade, but trips to Northwestern on Friday and Illinois on Sunday could be tests for the Buckeyes.
“It’s going to be a very tough weekend. They’re big matches,” coach Ty Tucker said.
The last time No. 11 Ohio State lost a Big Ten regular season matchup was on April 24, 2005, at Northwestern. This year, the No. 19 Wildcats are not only 8-1 at home but have won six of their last seven matches.
The Buckeyes hit a rough patch with losses in two matches before entering Big Ten play for good, then swept the state of Michigan with wins over both the University of Michigan and Michigan State this past week. The wins serve as a nice reminder of what OSU can do, redshirt-senior Hunter Callahan said.
“A win is always good, especially after two losses in a row,” he said. “Good just to get that feeling of winning back.”
Even with the taste of winning back in the Buckeyes’ mouths, Tucker said he hasn’t forgotten their recent shortcomings.
“Our math is a little bit short this year as far as getting to four (points), but we have to concentrate on Northwestern,” he said.
Getting through Northwestern with a win is a feat in itself, but getting out of the state of Illinois without a loss will be another story. The Buckeyes became familiar with No. 3 Illinois at the ITA Indoor Team Championship this year when the Fighting Illini ended OSU’s run with a 4-2 win.
“It is still Illinois … so there’s always going to be pressure no matter what,” he said.
Tucker said he is extremely familiar with rivalry, saying it’s been a “battle” for the past 15 years with Illinois.
Besides the streak of 96-straight conference wins that is on the line this weekend for OSU, Tucker said there is much more that can be lost.
“Your goal at the beginning of the year is to win a Big Ten championship and host an NCAA regional. That’s definitely on the line this weekend,” he said.
The Buckeyes are set to take on the Wildcats at 6 p.m. Friday in Evanston, Ill.