Buckeyes Fall Short in Quarters

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Last updated: 05/21/2012 0:09 AM

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Men's Tennis
Men’s Tennis Falls Short in NCAA Quarterfinals

By Brandon Castel

The Ohio State men’s tennis team lost a 4-2 heartbreaker Sunday against UCLA that will end the team’s bid for a championship at the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship in Athens, Ga.

The No. 5 seed Buckeyes were 34-3 heading into Sunday’s Elite Eight showdown with the No. 4 seed Bruins, but Ohio State dropped four of the six singles matches on Sunday and two of the three doubles matches.

The Buckeyes took a temporary lead after star senior Chase Buchanan easily won 6-3, 6-3 on court one over No. 62 Clay Thompson, but the No. 1-ranked duo of Buchanan and Blaz Rola was upset, 8-6, by the No. 44-ranked tandem of Alex Brigham and Adrien Puget.

Buchanan and Rola fell to 30-4 on the season and 14-2 vs. ranked opponents. It was only the fourth time all season the Buckeyes didn’t claim the doubles point.

Junior Connor Smith was the only Buckeye other than Buchanan—the No. 10-ranked singles player in the country—who won a singles match on Sunday against the Bruins.

How it Went Down: Doubles

In a long doubles session, Ohio State claimed the first match on court three after Peter Kobelt and Connor Smith defeated Marcos Giron and Warren Hardie 8-4.

After being tied 4-4, the Buckeye pair broke the Bruin duo twice to win the remaining four points. Kobelt and Smith conclude the 2011-12 campaign 27-5 overall.

Nick Meister and Dennis Novikov beat the 32nd-ranked Buckeye tandem of Devin McCarthy and Ille Van Engelen on court two 8-1 to leave the doubles point up to court one. With 33 wins (10 losses), McCarthy and Van Engelen finish the season with the team lead in doubles wins.

That left the doubles point up to Buchanan and Rola on court one, but Brigham and Puget took the match, 8-6, after breaking the Buckeye duo to take a 7-5 lead. That gave UCLA a 1-0 lead over the Buckeyes after the doubles portion of the contest. 

How it Went Down: Singles

OSU’s Connor Smith quickly evened the match at 1-1 after a 6-2, 6-2 victory vs. Dennis Mkrtchain in the opening match of the singles competition. The Tampa, Fla., native finishes the season 30-7 overall, including an 18-5 mark at the sixth position.

The Buckeyes took a short-lived lead with Buchanan’s victory over Clay Thompson on court one, but Dennis Novikov evened the match for UCLA following a 6-4, 6-0 victory over OSU sophomore Peter Kobelt.

The Bruins regained the lead 3-2 when No. 84 ranked Marcos Giron defeated Devin McCarthy 6-4, 6-4 at No. 4 singles. It was Puget, the 46th ranked singles player in the nation, who defeated Ohio State freshman Hunter Callahan 6-3, 7-6 (7-0) on court five to seal the Bruins’ victory over Ohio State.

What’s Next for the Buckeyes

The team portion of the season is over for Ohio State, as UCLA advances to the Final Four of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship.

The season itself will continue for Buchanan and Rola, who will compete in the NCAA Singles and Doubles championships, which will begin Wednesday May 23.

Buchanan, a 6-2 senior from New Albany, and Rola, a 6-4 sophomore from Slovenia, will be at-large selections for the singles tournament. They will also pair up for the doubles championship. 

Break Points

• Ohio State is 32-13 all-time in the NCAA tournament. 
• As the fifth-ranked team nationally, Ohio State has a 12-2 record. 
• The Buckeyes won 34 of 38 doubles points this season. 
• Since 2001, Ohio State is 279-40 (.877) when ranked in the ITA Top 25. That percentage improves to 232-17 (.935) since 2005-06. 
• The Buckeyes have been ranked in the ITA Top 10 for 200 consecutive matches (beginning March 7, 2006). 
• The Scarlet and Gray finish the season 12-4 vs. teams ranked in the ITA Top 25 and 23-4 vs. teams in the Top 75. 
•Blaz Rola leads the team with 33 singles wins, while Chase Buchanan leads the squad with 39 doubles wins.

Tennis Match Results
#4 UCLA 4, #5 Ohio State 2

May 20, 2012 at Athens, Ga.
(Dan Magill Tennis Complex)

Singles
1. #10 Chase Buchanan (OSU) def. #62 Clay Thompson (UCLA) 6-3, 6-3
2. #16 Nick Meister (UCLA) vs. #9 Blaz Rola (OSU) 3-6, 6-3, 3-2, unfinished
3. Dennis Novikov (UCLA) def. #67 Peter Kobelt (OSU) 6-4, 6-0
4. #84 Marcos Giron (UCLA) def. #85 Devin McCarthy (OSU) 6-4, 6-4
5. #46 Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. #107 Hunter Callahan (OSU) 6-3, 7-6 (7-0)
6. Connor Smith (OSU) def. Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) 6-2, 6-2

Doubles
1. #44 Alex Brigham/Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. #1 Chase Buchanan/Blaz Rola (OSU) 8-6
2. #85 Nick Meister/Dennis Novikov (UCLA) def. #32 Devin McCarthy/Ille Van Engelen (OSU) 8-1
3. Peter Kobelt/Connor Smith (OSU) def. Marcos Giron/Warren Hardie (UCLA) 8-4

Match Notes:
Ohio State 34-4; National ranking #5
UCLA 26-3; National ranking #4
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (6,1,3,4,5)

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