Winners of seven straight matches, the Ohio State men’s tennis team is looking to keep the momentum going as the Buckeyes enter their last two regular-season matches against Minnesota and Wisconsin this weekend.
Undefeated at home, the Buckeyes are 22-3 for the season and 7-0 in the Big Ten to hold the No. 1 slot in the conference, but the team isn’t taking this weekend’s set of matches as guaranteed wins. Although OSU has won 11 consecutive Big Ten regular-season titles (2006-16), Minnesota shared the title two years ago with the Buckeyes and is seen as a potential contender if the Gophers can top the host.
“Minnesota is definitely dangerous, they’re a great team,” OSU coach Ty Tucker said. “Everybody knows Minnesota’s always a tough out. They’re a well-coached team, and we’ll have our hands full.”
Friday’s 6 p.m. match against Minnesota will be held at the Varsity Indoor Tennis Center, but the Buckeyes might have the opportunity to play against Wisconsin on the outdoor courts at the Stickney Tennis Center this coming Sunday at noon if the weather permits.
Throughout the week, the Buckeyes have been practicing both indoors and outdoors in preparation for their competitions this weekend.
“We’ve just been hitting as many balls as we can and really working hard, especially as it’s coming down to crunch time with Big Tens and NCAAs after this weekend,” freshman JJ Wolf said. “I think everyone’s really getting focused, and I’m starting to feel my groove a little bit better.”
OSU has been successful so far this season with gaining a quick first point in the overall competition from the doubles matches, but as they head into longer game singles matches, the Buckeyes’ strategy to get a leg up over the competition is to concentrate on trying to win every first point in a set.
“I think it’s really important to start every match strong, and once you have the doubles points, you know that you got to take care of the start of the singles and try to win as many first sets as you can,” junior Hugo Di Feo said. “First sets are really important because it gives the whole team a real boost when they see on the board six first sets.”
Similarly to what has been seen all season, the lineup for the coming two matches will be sure to feature junior Mikael Torpegaard in a guaranteed first of second singles slot, with either Wolf or Di Feo in the second or third courts in singles. Freshman Kyle Seelig and senior Herkko Pollanen will also be seen in the mix of athletes competing on the singles courts.
With just four regular-season meets left with all fellow Big Ten conference competitors, these next two matches against Minnesota and Wisconsin will be crucial for OSU as they head into the championship season. With the undefeated 14-0 home record, the Buckeyes are hoping to ride the wave of their winning-streak and use the home-court advantage to put them over the top.
“We just want our guys to play the game,” Tucker said. “We’ll come out, and get after after doubles, and if the crowd gets behind us, we should be okay.”