The third-seeded Men’s Tennis Buckeyes won a convincing, and extremely long, match over the second-seeded UCLA Bruins, 4-1, in yesterday’s NCAA Men’s semifinals.
Starting the match all three doubles matches were incredibly close, with each match trading breaks—and no one able to gain the upper hand. UCLA finally was able to take a lead in the best-of-three doubles point with Martin Redlicke and Evan Zhu taking down Ohio State’s Martin Joyce and JJ Wolf in a narrow 7-5 victory.
The remaining two deciding matches were just about as close as one could be, with both going to best-of-seven tiebreaks after being tied 6-6. Just minutes apart Ohio State captured the crucial doubles point with 7-6(4) and 7-6(3) wins in tiebreakers by Mikael Torpegaard/John McNally over Keegan Smith/Austin Rapp, and by Matt Mendez/Hunter Tubert over Maxime Cressy/Bryce Pereira.
With the momentum from the nail-biting doubles point win in hand, the singles matches started—but momentum was derailed by mother nature. With the games just starting, thunderstorm and lightning in the area delayed the match for over three hours, with Ohio State needing to take 3 of the 6 singles matches to advance.
After the first delay Ohio State and UCLA were very even, with each side taking the first set in three matches, and with Ohio State’s No. 6 ranked Torpegaard going to a third set with UCLA’s No. 1 ranked Redlicke. It was shaping up to be a thrilling finish when lightning once again entered the area and delayed the rest of the match for another hour.
Shortly after the second restart UCLA tied the overall score 1-1, with their Connor Hance finishing off his match against Hunter Tubert with a 7-5, 6-3 win and Tubert’s second straight singles loss. The match would not stay tied for long though with Torpegaard having consecutive breaks to close out his huge match, and upset 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Needing only two more wins the Buckeyes seemed to be in great position, but dropped the second set in two of the remaining matches and had dropped the first set in the other two. The third set for these matches proved make or break and the Buckeyes showed they were up to the task late.
Kyle Seelig in the No. 4 singles spot quickly posted his 10th straight win with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Logan Staggs. This left Ohio State needing only one more singles victory out of three with a commanding 3-1 lead in the match.
Just a few minutes after Seelig’s win the Buckeyes finished it out, courtesy of Martin Joyce with a huge 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Maxime Cressy.
The win gave the match to the Bucks and cemented their place in their second overall trip to the NCAA Men’s Team Championship against tournament host Wake Forest.
Make sure to follows today’s NCAA final at 5 p.m. ET as Ohio State looks to win their first title in program history.
How to watch OSU in NCAA Finals
Time: 5 p.m. ET
Online: Live stream
Region Rookie of Year honors for Fukuda
On the women’s side of tennis, a Buckeye brought home some honors. Shiori Fukuda received the ITA Midwest Region Rookie of the Year accolade on Monday afternoon. The Midwest Region RoY is just another trophy to put on the shelf for Fukuda, a native of Tokyo. Already she has captured B1G Freshman of the Year, been named as an Ohio State Scholar-Athlete, and picked as a First Team All-Big Ten selection. The last honor being by unanimous decision.
Ranked as No. 101, Fukuda compiled a 23-10 singles record and a 15-3 doubles record. She climbed as high as No. 43 in the rankings this past season, and ended the season with just one loss in her final 13 matches.
Fukuda becomes the third Buckeye in the last five seasons to bring home the award. Even numbered years seem like good omens for the Bucks and this honor, as Gabriella De Santi took home RoY in 2014, and Francesca Di Lorenzo received the same award in 2016.