The Varsity Tennis Center was packed but quiet as Ohio State battled No. 5 Duke on the final day of January.
Sophomore Kolie Allen was down three games to two in the first set of her singles match against senior Meible Chi. Her father, Maurice Allen, broke the silence with loud chants of “Let’s go Buckeyes.”
With every swing of Kolie Allen’s racket, the game’s intensity grew. Kolie Allen fed off her dad’s support, won a crucial long rally and fist-pumped in his direction.
She won the set but lost the match. Still, Maurice Allen was proud of his daughter, whom he drove 5 1/2 hours to see play.
“How could I not come to all the matches to watch my daughter?” Maurice Allen said. “She’s the former 33-0 state champion and a blue chipper coming out of the United States Tennis Association, so coming to Ohio State to watch all her matches is only a natural thing for me.”
Kolie Allen finished her freshman season 21-7 and led the team in dual meets with a 19-6 record. She recently assisted the Buckeyes against Oklahoma State with a singles win in three sets against freshman Alana Wolfberg. She is not the only Allen impacting the team, however.
“We are all a part of the team. When they suit up, we suit up, and we hit the road,” Maurice Allen said. “We have been to some hostile territories. We were at the Cowgirls down at Oklahoma State. They filled up the entire stadium, and there wasn’t anyone besides me, my wife and the team. The Buckeyes pulled it out so I think that’s inspirational.”
Maurice Allen is a commercial market development manager for Comcast Chicago and lives in Chicago suburb Lombard, Illinois. Regardless of the distance, he can be seen — and heard — at almost every home and away match.
He and wife Jody Allen have traveled the country to see the Buckeyes play in Nashville, Seattle and recently Stillwater, Oklahoma, where Ohio State clinched a berth to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Indoor Championship with a 4-3 win against Oklahoma State.
“It’s always nice to have a crowd, and [Maurice Allen] always contributes a ton with the Buckeyes chants. It makes you laugh a bit and helps take that stress away,” redshirt senior Danielle Wolf said.
Against Duke, Wolf’s match was the deciding game in the Buckeyes’ victory, requiring a decisive tiebreaker in the final set. Wolf won the tiebreaker 7-5, and Maurice Allen’s chants were heard in the background.
But his cheers aren’t one size fits all. Allen can be heard shouting specific chants for other individual players aside from his daughter, such as “Allez Buckeyes!” for French junior Luna Dormet and “IC!” for freshman Irina Cantos Siemers.
“His supportive nature of everyone on the team –– not just specifically me –– has had a big impact on our team,” Kolie Allen said. “It lightens the mood. Everyone knows he’s my dad, and he’s goofy. If you’re in a bad spot, he helps you get out of it.”
However, Maurice Allen isn’t a one-man band. He said his wife Jodie handles all the travel plans and drives on long road trips. While Jodie Allen isn’t as vocal as her husband during their daughter’s matches, she exchanges a fist-bump with Kolie prior to each of her contests.
Maurice Allen can also be a burden on opposing athletes. Kolie Allen said that this past spring, Minnesota senior Tina Kreinis looked up constantly during the match at Maurice Allen after hearing him cheer for his daughter.
“My dad is very good at annoying my opponents. It’s helpful because they obviously get rattled,” Kolie Allen said.
Maurice Allen didn’t have to travel as far to see his daughter compete in this past weekend’s ITA Indoor Championship, though.
The tournament took place near the Allen residence in Chicago. The Buckeyes lost two of three matchups –– the opener against Georgia Tech and another to Texas –– but one bright spot was Kolie Allen.
She won two of three singles matches, including an upset of No. 125 Texas junior Fernanda Labrana.
In victory and defeat, though, the vocal support of Maurice Allen is one thing his daughter won’t have to worry about changing.