COLUMBUS, Ohio – Blaz Rola, a junior on the Ohio State men’s tennis team, advanced to the 2013 NCAA Singles Championship final after beating No. 41 Japie De Klerk of Tulsa, 6-2, 6-3, Sunday afternoon at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex/Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill.
Rola, ranked 12th in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association polls and the Big Ten’s at-large singles selection, will face No. 3 seed Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia Monday. Jenkins earned a 7-6(1), 7-6(3) victory over No. 11 Sebastian Fanselow of Pepperdine in the other semifinal. A time for the final Monday has yet to be released. For updated singles and doubles brackets, including updated start times, log on to the official NCAA Tournament Central page.
It is the first time in his Buckeye career Rola has advanced to the national final. In 2012, Rola made it as far as the NCAA semifinals where he fell 6-2, 6-1 to Kentucky’s and Eric Quigley, the No. 3 seed. So far, Rola, a native of Slovenia, is 12-2 all-time in the NCAA Singles Championship. Improving to 31-1 overall in 2013, Rola has now won at least 30 singles matches in each of his seasons at Ohio State. In 2011-12, Rola was 37-7 overall and last year he posted a 41-7 record.
In 2013, Rola, a three-time unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selection, has defeated 11 ranked singles opponents in dual matches and an additional five ranked opponents en route to the NCAA championship match. Rola and Jenkins faced each other earlier this season in the ITA Team Indoor Championships Feb. 15-18, when then-No. 62 ranked Rola upset then-No. 7 Jenkins 6-4, 6-2 in first singles.
Against DeKlerk, Rola, who is on a 12-match win streak, began the match with a 2-0 advantage before play was suspended and moved indoors because of inclement weather. The junior member of the Scarlet and Gray men’s tennis team went on to win the first set 6-2. After beginning the second set down 1-0, Rola won the next three games to make the score, 3-1. Rola ended up dropping just two more games en route to a 6-3 second-set win. It is the fourth time in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Singles Championship Rola has won in straight sets.
Ohio State Career Honors – 2012 NCAA Doubles Champion, 2011 ITA All-American Championships Doubles Champion, 2011 USTA/ITA National Indoor Doubles Champion (all with Chase Buchanan), 2011 USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Singles Champion ... four-time ITA All-American (2011 singles; 2012 singles and doubles; 2013 singles) ... 2011 NCAA All- Tournament Team at No. 3 doubles ... 2011 ITA National Player to Watch ... 2011 ITA Midwest Region Rookie of the Year ... unanimous 2011, 2012 and 2013 First Team All-Big Ten ... 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year ... nine-time Big Ten Athlete of the Week honoree ... tied for 11th all-time at Ohio State in career singles wins with 108 … sits in seventh place in Ohio State records book for combined career wins with 213 … 2011 ITA Scholar-Athlete ...2012 Academic All-Big Ten honoree ... 2011, 2012 and 2013 Ohio State Scholar-Athlete.
Blaz Rola Quotes
On advancing to NCAA final
“I’m a lot happier than from the semifinals last year. I was a little lucky this year with the draw. My opponent was an unseeded player, though he had a great tournament. I was the favorite today and I’m really happy I ended up on top.”
On his career performances in NCAA singles championship
“Every year I seem to do one round better. First year quarterfinals, second year semifinals, this year the final. I hope I can skip a year and get a title this year.”
On his play today vs. Tulsa’s Japie De Klerk
“Yesterday I had some trouble handling the rhythm inside, but after the warm-up today, I think I did pretty well. I think I was in control of the whole match. I got a little tight in the second set, but I’m just happy I pulled through.”
On his experience at the NCAA Tournament
“Last year with Chase was an unbelievable year. We played so well in the NCAA’s. I was there through the end and I got that feeling on how it is to be at the same place for 10 days. It has definitely helped me a lot.”
2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Singles Championship
May 26, 2013
Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex/Atkins Tennis Center
First Round –>Blaz Rola def. Ben McLachlan (California), 6-2, 7-6(4)
Second Round –>Blaz Rola def. Malte Stropp (Mississippi State), 6-1, 6-4
Round of 16 –>Blaz Rola def. Tsvetan Mihov (South Carolina), 6-3, 6-2
Quarterfinals –>Blaz Rola def. Henrique Cunha (Duke), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
Semifinals –>Blaz Rola def. Japie De Klerk (Tulsa), 6-2, 6-3