For the second straight year, UCLA dashed Ohio State’s hopes for an NCAA team championship in men’s tennis.
Last night, the sixth-seeded Bruins rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the third-seeded Buckeyes 4-2 in the NCAA quarterfinals. Because of rain, the match was moved from Athens, Ga., to Georgia Tech’s indoor facility in Atlanta.
A year ago, the Buckeyes fell in a 4-3 heartbreaker to UCLA in Champaign, Ill.
“UCLA’s got a whole lot of talent,” Ohio State coach Ty Tucker said. “We got the doubles point and the No. 1 singles and had many, many opportunities to hold serve and had break points all over. We played UCLA, quite possibly the best team in the country, and you must convert.”
Ohio State rallied to win the doubles point when Herkko Pollanen and Kevin Metka won the No. 2 doubles match in a tiebreaker.
The Buckeyes then took a 2-0 lead when Peter Kobelt, ranked 11th nationally, defeated top-ranked Clay Thompson 7-5, 7-6 at No. 1 singles. The victory was particularly sweet for Kobelt because it was his double-fault in last year’s match that clinched UCLA’s victory. But Ohio State would not get another victory.
Adrien Puget defeated Hunter Callahan 6-2, 7-6 at No. 5 singles, and Metka fell to Karue Sell 6-4, 6-4 at No. 6. Callahan led 5-4 in the second set but couldn’t hold serve.
Ohio State fell behind 3-2 when Ralf Steinbach lost 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to Mackenzie McDonald at No. 3. Steinbach had two break points trailing 4-3 in the third set but couldn’t capitalize.
Chris Diaz fell behind 3-0 in the third set to Gage Brymer at No. 4. At 4-5, Diaz fought off three match points to hold serve but lost the next game.
“They work their butts off, and you feel bad for them,” Tucker said of his team. “There aren’t a lot of dry eyes here right now.”