COLUMBUS, Ohio – The fifth-ranked Ohio State men’s tennis team produced another 4-3 classic with the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers in the semifinals at the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship Sunday held at the Downtown Club at the Met in Houston, Texas. Down 3-1, the Buckeyes (12-0) fought back to win the Top 5 contest and advance to the championship match at Noon CST Monday. Under director of tennis and head coach Ty Tucker, Ohio State remains the only team to defeat Virginia – the defending champions - in the Indoor Championships in the last six years, with the Buckeyes winning as well in the semifinals during 2012 campaign.
“It was an incredible match,” Tucker said. “Both teams had chances to win it and our guys kept fighting no matter what the circumstances were at the moment. They wanted to win the match. It’s nice to beat the defending champs and it will take a huge effort by our guys tomorrow to bring home the trophy.”
The win vs. the Cavaliers also snaps a 36-match win streak for Virginia.
Knotted at 3-3, redshirt junior Kevin Metka (Worthington, Ohio ) saved two match points in the final set tiebreaker before prevailing over Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 6-5 (7-5), 5-6 (5-7), 6-5 (12-10) at No. 5 singles to seal the win for the Buckeyes. It was the second-consecutive clinch for Metka at the tournament and his team-best 11th win of the season.
In doubles action, the No. 2 duo of redshirt senior Peter Kobelt (New Albany, Ohio) and Metka were first off court, defeating Alex Domijan and Justin Shane 6-3 on court No. 1. Redshirt junior Hunter Callahan (Lower Gwynedd, Pennsylvania) and freshman Herkko Pollanen (Helsinki, Finland) fell on court No.2 6-2 to Mitchell Frank and Luca Cortineli. The doubles point was then decided on court No. 3 with redshirt sophomore Chris Diaz (Columbus, Ohio) and redshirt freshman Ralf Steinbach (Halle, Germany) falling to Mac Styslinger and Kwiatkowski, 6-5 (7-1).
Down 1-0 In singles play, Ohio State and Virginia each took three first sets, but Callahan tied the match with his 6-3, 6-4 upset over No. 62 Jordan Diagle on court No. 6. Moments later, Pollanen fell to Ryan Shane on court No. 3 6-2, 6-5 (7-5). Virginia furthered its lead to 3-1 when Domijan, a player ranked No. 1 last season, defeated Diaz 6-1, 5-6 (1-7), 6-4 on court No. 2.
No. 23 Kobelt downed No. 3 Frank, the ITA All-American Champion this season, on court No. 1 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to cut the Cavalier lead to 3-2. Steinbach then tied the match with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-5 (7-5) victory over Justin Shane on court No. 4 to set up Metka for the memorable moment in his tennis collegiate career.
The Buckeyes now turn the championship match, against the winner of No. 2 UCLA/No. 3 USC. Last season, the Buckeyes defeated the Trojans, 4-3, in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament before being edged by UCLA, 4-3, in the NCAA semifinals in Illinois. The match will be held at 1:00 p.m. EST, with a link to live scoring link above.
1. #23 Peter Kobelt (OSU) def. #3 Mitchell Frank (UVA) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
2. Alex Domijan (UVA) def. Chris Diaz (OSU) 6-1, 5-6 (1-7), 6-4
3. Ryan Shane (UVA) def. Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 6-2, 6-5 (7-5)
4. Ralf Steinbach (OSU) def. Justin Shane (UVA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-5 (7-5)
5. Kevin Metka (OSU) def. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (UVA) 6-5 (7-5), 5-6 (5-7), 6-5 (12-10)
6. Hunter Callahan (OSU) def. No. 62 Jordan Diagle 6-3, 6-4
1. #2 Peter Kobelt/Kevin Metka (OSU) def. Alex Domijan/Justin Shane (UVA) 6-3
2. Mitchell Frank/Luca Cortineli def. Hunter Callahan/Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 6-2
3. Mac Styslinger/Thai-Son Kwiatkowski def. Chris Diaz/Ralf Steinbach (OSU) 6-5 (7-1)
Virginia 6-1; National ranking #1
Ohio State 12-0; National ranking #5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (6,3,2,1,4,5)