COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 2 Ohio State men’s tennis team continued its home dominance with a 5-2 win over No. 10 Illinois Sunday afternoon at the Varsity Tennis Center. With the conference win, the Buckeyes (21-2, 6-0 B1G) won their 186th-consecutive home match, an NCAA all-time record. Ohio State takes sole ownership of the conference standings and have won 88-consecutive B1G regular-season matches, dating back to 2005. The Buckeyes took the doubles point and four singles matches to defeat the Fighting Illini (14-6, 4-1 B1G).
“We made some changes with our doubles lineup and I thought Marko and Kevin worked well for us today,” director of tennis and head coach Ty Tucker said. “Ralf Steinbach was able to battle back in his second set, which helped our momentum moving forward. We’ve been in battles in all of our conference matches this year and today was no different. Overall, I thought today we played better tennis and it was nice to win this one today.”
Redshirt junior Hunter Callahan (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.), ranked No. 97 in the nation, clinched the match for the Buckeyes, improving his season record to 22-6. With the win, Callahan brings his dual match record to 18-3 for the season.
Different doubles lineups were used for the match and Callahan and redshirt sophomore Chris Diaz (Columbus, Ohio) struck first and defeated Blake Bazarnik and Alex Jesse 8-4 on court No.3. Redshirt junior Kevin Metka (Worthington, Ohio) and freshman Marko Goles-Babic (Zagreb, Croatia) clinched the doubles point with an 8-7 (7-2) victory over Jared Hiltzik and Farris Gosea on court No. 2. On court No. 1, senior Peter Kobelt (New Albany, Ohio) and redshirt freshman Ralf Steinbach (Halle, Germany) held set points against No. 3 Ross Guigon and Tim Kopinski, but were tied 3-3 in their tiebreaker when play was suspended.
With Ohio State leading 1-0 heading into singles play, the Illini fought back by taking four first sets. Illinois tied the match at 1-1 when No. 42 Kopinski defeated Diaz 6-3, 6-1 on court No. 3. Steinbach battled down 3-5 and set point before defeating Julian Childers 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) on court No. 6 to give the Buckeyes the lead. No. 9 Kobelt dropped a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 decision to No. 23 Gosea on court No. 1 to tie things up again. No. 109 Metka was down a break and won four consecutive games to take a 6-3, 6-4 win on court No. 5. Callahan battled from a set down to clinch the match for Ohio State, downing Bazarnik 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. In the final match of the afternoon, Pollanen upset No. 9 Hiltzik 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 to give the Buckeyes a 5-2 win.
Ohio State hits the road for their next three matches. On April 4, the Buckeyes will play the No. 50 Minnesota Gophers. The Gophers lead the all-time series 38-28, but Ohio State has won their previous 11 encounters. On April 6, the Buckeyes will head to Madison, Wis., to play the No. 62 Wisconsin Badgers. Ohio State has won 23-consecutive matches against Wisconsin and leads their all-time series 48-32. The Buckeyes end their road series with a match against the No. 13 Kentucky Wildcats. Ohio State leads their all-time series 17-12, which includes their 4-0 on Feb. 7. The next home match for the Buckeyes is April 11 against No. 38 University of Tulsa. As always, admission is free.
1. #23 Farris Gosea def. #8 Peter Kobelt (OSU) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
2. Herkko Pollanen (OSU) def. #9 Jared Hiltzik (ILL) 4-6, 6-0, 6-3
3. #42 Tim Kopinski (ILL) def. Chris Diaz (OSU) 6-3,6-1
4. #109 Kevin Metka (OSU) def. Ross Guignon (ILL) 6-4, 6-3
5. #97 Hunter Callahan (OSU) def. Blake Bazarnik (ILL) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
6. Ralf Steinbach (OSU) def. Julian Childers (ILL) 6-1, 7-6 (7-3)
1. Peter Kobelt/Ralf Steinbach (OSU) vs. #3 Ross Guignon/Tim Kopinski (ILL) 7-7 (3-3), unfinished
2. Kevin Metka/Marko Goles-Babic (OSU) def. Farris Gosea/Jared Hiltzik (ILL) 8-7 (7-2)
3. Hunter Callahan/Chris Diaz (OSU) def. Blake Bazarnik/Alex Jesse (ILL) 8-4
Illinois 14-6; National ranking #10
Ohio State 21-2; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (3,6,1,4,5,2)