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Ohio State’s men’s tennis team advances to national championship

Could this be their first time winning it all?

@OhioStateMTEN Twitter

Ohio State men’s tennis is playing for its first national championship title Sunday! After a nail-biter against Georgia in the quarterfinals, and a sweep against TCU in the semifinals today, the Buckeyes are playing their best tennis at just the right time.

To win the national championship, Ohio State will have to win three matches in three consecutive days in Orlando. Their quarterfinal matchup against Georgia that was scheduled for Thursday was pushed back to Friday due to rain in the area. The Bulldogs would take an early lead when they earned a point in the doubles matchups. The Buckeyes did their damage in the singles matches, winning four of the six matches played. The clincher came when freshman Alexander Bernard beat Georgia’s Miguel Perez Peña in straight sets, 6-4 and 7-5.

No. 3 Ohio State began its upset against No. 2 TCU by winning the doubles point, thanks to the duos of Robert Cash/Justin Boulais and Andrew Lutschaunig/James Trotter. So, up early 1-0, it just needed three singles courts to win to advance.

It did not look promising in the first sets of each of the singles courts, as Cannon Kingsley, JJ Tracy, and James Trotter all lost the first set. Justin Boulais was down early as well, but rallied to win the first set 6-3, as did Alex Bernard and Jack Anthrop.

Anthrop ended up handling his opponent pretty easily, as he took the first singles win, 6-2, 6-2, to make it 2-0 Buckeyes. Boulais followed suit with a 6-3, 6-4 victory on court 1, leaving it up to any of his four teammates to win their match.

Let me take a second to recognize Alex Bernard. He is only a freshman, yet he has been PIVOTAL in the team’s postseason run. In the quarterfinal against Georgia, his come-back win won the match against the Bulldogs. He won the first set, then was down 2-5 before rallying to win 7-5!

Clutch should be his middle name, because doggone it, he did it again against TCU! Although he didn’t mount as big of a comeback, his 6-4, 6-4 win was all the Bucks needed for the 4-0 sweep and to advance to the NCAA Finals!

Bernard isn’t the only Buckeye bringing some young energy to the court, so is redshirt freshman Jack Anthrop. Maybe some of their success this weekend can be attributed to returning to their home state. Bernard is from Bonita Springs, while Anthrop is from Orlando.

The duo will be looking to have a little more success against Virginia today than they did in their first two meetings with the Cavaliers. Anthrop and Bernard only won one singles point in their three singles matches in two meetings with Virginia this year. Anthrop beat Alexander Kiefer in three sets in Charlottesville, and his match against Mans Dahlberg in Chicago was unfinished. Bernard only played one singles match against Virginia this year, with his match against Jeffrey von der Schulenburg going unfinished.

Ohio State is now 34-2 on the season and is on a 19-match winning streak. The program has only been in the championship twice, once in 2009 and the other in 2018, both resulting in losses. Their opponent in the final today is Virginia, who beat Texas 4-1 on Saturday. The Cavaliers entered the NCAA Tournament ranked fifth in the country.

The Buckeyes have already beaten Virginia twice this season, however, the Cavaliers are the defending NCAA champions and have won their last 21 consecutive matches dating back to their second loss to the Buckeyes.

No matter the result today, a lot of great tennis players will be taking the court in Orlando. Eight of the top-49 players in the country will be taking the court for the Buckeyes and Cavaliers. The highest-ranked of those players is Virginia’s Chris Rodesch, who was ranked ninth in the last singles rankings that were released on May 4. Ohio State’s top-ranked singles player is Cannon Kingsley, the 11th-ranked player in Division I.

Rounding out the ranked Buckeye players are JJ Tracy at 22, Justin Boulais at 24, 34th-ranked James Trotter, and freshman Alexander Bernard is ranked 41st. Virginia’s other ranked singles players in the top-49 are 26th-ranked Inaki Montes and 49th-ranked Jeffrey Von.

The final is scheduled to start at noon Sunday and will be live-streamed on the Cracked Racquets YouTube channel.