IMG

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ohio State Beats Illinois 4-1 for Fourth Consecutive Men's Big Ten Title


©Colette Lewis 2009--
Ann Arbor, MI--

The sixth straight meeting of Illinois and Ohio State for the Big Ten conference title ended as the past three had, with the Buckeyes holding the trophy.

I'll have a more formal recap for the Tennis Recruiting Network on Thursday, but I'll pass along a few observations from today's match, which dodged the bad weather that arrived less than an hour after it finished.

The doubles point didn't disappoint in what was expected to be a close contest, with Ohio State looking a bit shaky yesterday against Michigan, and Illinois playing exceptionally well against Indiana.

Ohio State was up big and early at No. 3, where Bryan Koniecko and Shuhei Uzawa had a 6-1 lead on Illinois's Roy Kalmanovich and Meedo El Tabakh. Illinois was up at No. 1 and No. 2, with Dennis Nevolo and Ruan Roelofse up a break over Justin Kronauge and Steven Moneke, and Marek Czerwinski and Marc Spicijaric up two breaks on Ohio State's Matt Allare and Chase Buchanan. There were twists and turns however, with Allare and Buchanan getting one break back to make it 7-6, and Nevolo losing his serve at 5-4, and Ohio State eventually taking a 6-5 lead. But at 6-6, Kronauge was broken and Czerwinski held at No. 2 to give Illinois the tie, moments after Koneicko and Uzawa had put Ohio State in the lead with an 8-4 win at No. 3. Now it was up to freshman Nevolo to serve out the match and give Illinois a lead going into singles. After a tense 30-30 start to the game, Roelofse took control of the final two points at the net, and Illinois had what would turn out to be its only lead of the day.

Ohio State Ty Tucker was effusive in his praise of Nevolo's doubles play after the match, calling him one of the best five doubles players in the country, while freely admitting that his team doesn't play great doubles. But the Illini couldn't sustain any of the momentum they had amassed when the singles began.

It certainly doesn't hurt the Buckeyes chances when one of the country's top recruits, Chase Buchanan, who joined the team last month, is filling their six slot. As he had done against Michigan on Saturday, Buchanan got an early point for the Buckeyes, , evening the match at 1-1 with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Brian Livingston. As the first set losses began to mount, Illinois must have recognized the feeling Indiana had on Saturday, when the Hoosiers were down early and often on nearly every court. Livingston and Abe Sousza at No. 5 had been outstanding for Illinois against Indiana, but not against Ohio State. Once all six first sets had been won by Buckeyes, it was then just a guessing game as to who would clinch and when. Kronauge gave Ohio State its second point by downing Kalmanovich 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2, and Koniecko put them on the brink with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Spicijaric at No. 1. When Souza was broken at 4-4 in the second set against Balazs Novak, the Buckeyes no longer on court and those who traveled with the team but didn't play, congregated courtside. It wasn't a long wait, with Novak holding at love to deliver the fourth point and the fourth conference title for the Buckeyes, who completed a perfect Big Ten season for the fourth year in a row.

As the staff distributed the hats and T-shirts proclaiming the Buckeyes Big Ten Champions, there was excitement and happiness, with the freshman and sophomores displaying the biggest smiles. For the seniors and Tucker, one of the emotions was certainly relief, but even with the NCAAs looming, Ohio State was going to take the time to enjoy it.

"Are you kidding me?" Tucker said, when I asked him if it gets old. "No, it's unbelievable. Sometimes the faces change, but they're all Buckeyes and they work hard, they fight hard."

For complete scores, see the Ohio State website.

Tucker still has a ways to go to approach the record that Claire Pollard is posting at Northwestern. Her women have now won 11 straight conference titles with a 4-0 victory over Michigan today in Wisconsin. For details, see the Northwestern website.

In the SEC, the Ole Miss men and Georgia women have earned conference titles. And in the Big 12, Baylor prevails in both men's and women's conference tournaments.

16 comments:

Austin said...

Will Ole Miss flame out in the NCAA tourney yet again? That is the question. They went 14-0 in the SEC once you add the conference tournament, very impressive. Time to step it up this year, just like Ohio State and Virginia.

the old pro said...

colette, you probably already have this: the link to the usta press release on the players in the French Open Wild Card tournament.

Explain me said...

How the USTA chooses the players for the Wild Car tournament? Why Pasha is over Kudla, Sarmiento, Sandgreen, Ryan Harrison etc? Don't give me wrong, Pasha is a great an very talented player. But the USTA is giving the wrong message.

hey said...

here, ill explain, the reason pasha is in the tournament instead of kudla is because there is no way denis would travle down to boca raton to lose to john isner or jesse levine first round then have to go back home the next day. i believe harrison is still injured, but getting better. the reason hes playing instead of sarmiento could be as simple as they both practice down in boca, and pasha has been practicing better or harder. i am not sure why sandgren isnt at the tournament, except the same reason as kudla, AS WELL AS the fact that his mom doesnt let him do everything he could be doing. it is simply the fact that he is down in boca that pasha is in the tournament. If kudla, sandgren, harrison, lived in boca raton and trained there, they wouldve been asked before pasha.

last thing, you do not know that the other players were not asked, they may have turned it down. so until you know your facts, dont criticize the usta.

Explain me said...

I understand that Pasha is in Boca. But that is just the main idea behind my point. The USTA should send the message that they are supporting all the prospects the same way. Van Overbeek, Cox and Fowler live in Florida and they were not invited. I am sure Salazar would have let Kudla go. Also, the USTA has never shown a great help to Sandgreen. All of this player are over Pasha and at least one of them would have go to the French Open WC tournmanet.

analyst said...

How about Amer Delic, Sam Warburg, Scoville Jenkins,Mike Russell, Lester Cook, Jesse Witten,Mike McClune, Todd Paul, Kaes vant Hof, or any of the other US men who are having success on the pro circuit and at least one of whom would probably love to have a shot at a main draw WC at a Grand Slam. Plus, they might actually have a chance of taking down Isner or Young. These opportunities are GOLDEN to many--does the USTA not see that? By giving these precious opportunities to their "pet project" juniors before they are ready to capitalize on them, they are dissing the MEN who are out there trying to find success on the pro circuit and sending this message: if you haven't broken through by the time you're 25 might as well hang it up. We think that 16 and 17 year olds who have yet to gain an ATP point have a better chance to do well in this tournament than you. Or worse, the future promise of these players is enough to trump your own level of success and hard work. Yeah, we know thay probably don't have a shot at getting through the WC tournament but we want to give them the "experience". Of course, they'll get these chances numerous times again in the future as well, unless they totally flame out, but what the heck, this is our new agenda, to give juniors a chance to gain professional experience. So WC's into Futures and even Challengers for juniors is not enough, now they are given precious opportunities to get into grand slam main draws. The women I can justify to some extent because these junior girls have had some pro circuit success, but the boys are not ready.(yeah I know that Williams won a Futures 2 years ago, but he hasn't been able to repeat that level of success). Maybe they will be ready in a year or two,but why not wait until then to gift them these perks and give someone else with a pro level game the chance now.

Colette Lewis said...

McClune and Jenkins are playing. Is it preferable to just have 4 older pro players, as was the case for the Australian? Or to put a few juniors in the mix?

analyst said...

If the juniors are actually ready to compete at that level then putting them in the mix can be justified. I think Alex Domijan, a healthy Ryan Harrison, MAYBE Williams, MAYBE Buchanon (if he wasn't in college) have shown that they can compete at that level. King hasn't shown that yet although with his recent junior success one could argue for his inclusion. But should he take that spot away from an "older" pro (ie: over the age of 20)? I don't think so. Pasha definitely not; he may have great potential but he is not at all ready to succeed at that level. If you must give it to a junior because you don't think there are any other pros worthy of it, then how about Sandgren or even Ryan Lipman or Jarmere Jenkins who have a much better shot at success here than Pasha. (BTW-I have heard that Pasha is a great kid with a great work ethic so no disrespect intended--just looking at the selections OBJECTIVELY--in which case they make no sense)

tennisforlife said...

I don't have a view on whether Pasha should have been selected or not but I think the USTA would be well served by increasing transparency in general.

Austin said...

Juniors should not be in this tournament, McClune shouldnt either. He has shown nothing since he turned pro to warrant receiving this opportunity.

One would think we would want the best possible player as our wildcard entrant, regardless of age.

floridatennis said...

TO Hey...

Another example of the USTA operating in their own little bubble. None of the juniors mentioned, I am not saying they are not talented, but none have popped through yet to the next level and clearly NONE have the game to even come close to winning a round at the French. All spots in this WC tournament should have gone to up-coming US pros who have a chance to actually to win it. Giving a spot to Pasha or even King is beyond a rational choice, but typically of how the USTA operates. Personally, I am not sure why the USTA is so high on Pasha. I heard about his match with Daniel McCall at the Easter Bowl and he clearly did not stand out. Yes he got some talent but so don’t a lot of juniors and his actual results have been less than impressive.

floridatennis said...

to hey

meant the WC should have been given to a pro who has a chance to win the WC tournment, not the French, and at least be competitive in the first round at the French like Michael Russell.

curious said...

Anybody know the status of Ryan Harrison? Heard he injured his back, but that was a long time ago. How is he recovering these days? Very talented player, and am certain he will make inroads once he starts playing!

scott said...

Ole Miss sure didn't get any favors. Not hosting, they have to go to LSU. And if they get through that, likely to meet Texas A&M in the round of 16 at A&M. Top 16 seeds went exactly by the rankings, though a few of them are not hosting.

racketman said...

Floridatennis and Hey,

The USTA probably gave Pasha the opportunity to play for the WC because he won the clay court championships last July and had been training on clay in Spain. Nothing wrong with that. The fact that he lost to the younger McCall on a hard court in California is not really a surprise. McCall is tough to beat on that surface under any conditions when he is gunning for you.

floridatennis said...

To Rocketman,

McCall is good but can’t be that tough as Fowler really breezed through him at the Easter Bowl. Pasha winning 16s clay courts, I really don’t know what that means as none of the other top 16 year olds played it. VanOverbeek came in third in 18s and also trained in Spain so would that be a better case for him to get the WC. Anyway, the point here really is none of these juniors have the game to compete at the French Open Mens first round, or for that matter to have a shot at winning the US WC tournament. By giving that WC to Pasha or King for that matter was a wasted opportunity for one of our upcoming pros like Amer Delic, Sam Warburg, Scoville Jenkins, Mike Russell, Lester Cook, Jesse Witten, Mike McClune, Todd Paul, ect. An opportunity like that should not be wasted on player development. Pasha losing 0.2 really, what is the point of that.