The Ohio State men’s tennis team’s transition to the outdoor courts seemed to be seamless this weekend as it went 2-0, taking sole possession of second place in the Big Ten.
Minnesota visited Columbus on Friday, but the weather forced the teams to play inside once more. The story changed on Sunday when the weather cooperated enough to let the Buckeyes (18-7, 6-1) take on the Wisconsin Badgers (6-14, 2-5) in their first outdoor Big Ten match this season. Coach Ty Tucker said he was happy with the weekend’s variation.
“One match indoors and one outside with some tough conditions with lots of wind, it’s good to get some wins to get some confidence,” he said.
With a win under their belt after topping Minnesota, 4-2, the Buckeyes were able to take their talents outdoors on Sunday.
Tucker said the transition was to the outdoor courts was hard and will continue to be tough for the Buckeyes as the season progresses.
“It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take us a couple more weeks,” he said. “You keep working hard … Move your feet, you’ll find yourself OK.”
OSU bucked the Badgers early on to take the doubles point. The Buckeyes picked up two quick wins by redshirt-junior Chris Diaz and redshirt-senior Hunter Callahan and redshirt-sophomore Ralf Steinbach and redshirt-senior Kevin Metka.
OSU continued to make it look easy with Steinbach, Diaz and Callahan all taking wins in singles to seal Wisconsin’s fate. OSU wrapped it up with a 6-1 win over the Badgers.
The match might not have been as easy as the box score made it seem when taking the elements into account, though, Tucker said.
“We haven’t been outside much in these conditions with heavy, heavy, heavy winds. When it’s heavy, heavy, heavy wind, anything can happen in tennis,” he said. “Tough match, tough conditions.”
Before OSU cruised against the Badgers, the Golden Gophers put up a fight, especially for the doubles point. Minnesota took the win on court two but Diaz and Callahan battled back to tie it up with a win on court three. It all came down to court one, where Metka and Steinbach were pushed into a tiebreaker. The duo came back with a clean 7-0 win, taking the tiebreaker and the doubles point for the Buckeyes.
“We were able to survive a close doubles point against a good team with Minnesota … So how can we be upset?” Tucker said.
The momentum continued through the singles matches with wins from Diaz, Callahan and Steinbach clearing the Buckeyes way to their 4-2 win. OSU’s victory marked the Golden Gophers’ first conference loss.
Chances are high that this wasn’t the last time OSU will be thrown in to outdoors conditions, with spring weather rolling into Columbus. With two weeks and four matches left in the regular season, there is still a lot of tennis to be played.
Indiana is scheduled to visit Columbus on Friday, followed by Purdue on Sunday.