Ohio State Claims First Division I National Team Title with 4-1 Victory Over USC at ITA Team Indoor Championships
After Ohio State's dramatic 4-3 third-set tiebreaker victory over top seed Virginia on Sunday, a letdown in Monday's final against No. 3 seed Southern California would have been understandable. Instead, the fifth-seeded Buckeyes shed the bridesmaid role with a 4-1 win over the Trojans, claiming their first national team title after three runner-up finishes at the Indoor(2007, 2008, 2012) and one at the NCAAs(2009).
Ohio State had dropped the doubles point to Virginia on Sunday, making their comeback from 3-1 down all the more impressive. The Buckeyes avoided a similar scenario in the final, with Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka taking a 6-4 decision from Raymond Sarmiento and Yannick Hanfmann at line 1, and Chris Diaz and Ralf Steinbach clinching it at line 3 with a 6-4 win over Eric Johnson and Max DeVroome. USC's Roberto Quiroz and Connor Farren led Herko Pollanen and Hunter Callahan 5-3 when play was halted.
In singles, the teams split first sets, with Kobelt, Steinbach and Callahan winning at lines 1, 4, and 6, and Hanfmann, Quiroz and DeVroome taking the opening sets at 2, 3, and 5. Unfortunately for the Trojans, they were unable to get a quick point from any of those three.
Instead, Ohio State took a 2-0 lead when Callahan, who won all four of his singles matches in the tournament, beat Jonny Wang 6-3, 6-4 at line 6. Hanfmann closed the gap with a 6-5(4), 6-3 decision over Diaz at 2, but it didn't last long, with Kobelt making it 3-1 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Sarmiento at 1. USC's Quiroz and DeVroome were up a set over Pollanen and Metka at lines 3 and 5, with the second sets in those two matches at 4-all. But Steinbach had broken Connor Farren at line 4 and was serving for the championship leading 6-5(4), 5-4. Farren had two chances to put the match back on serve in the second set, but lost both the 30-40 point and the deciding deuce point, with Steinbach coming into the net and hitting a tough backhand volley, then an easy forehand one to set off a huge celebration for the Buckeyes. (Match point was filmed by the ITA staff and is available here.
The Ohio State website has quotes from head coach Ty Tucker, Steinbach and Kobelt in its article on the final. CollegeTennisOnline, which has a point-by-point account of the Metka - Thai Kwiatkowski third-set tiebreaker that decided the Virginia match, also will provide its account of the final, I'm sure.
I will be seeing the newly crowned National Indoor champions for the first time this year on Saturday, when they travel to Notre Dame in what promises to be an excellent non-conference match. The Fighting Irish went 2-1 in Houston, beating both Florida and Mississippi State, with their only loss of the weekend to Virginia.
For all the results and the ITA recap of the final, see their tournament page.
#5 Ohio State 4, #3 Southern Cal 1
1. #23 Peter Kobelt (OSU) def. #7 Ray Sarmiento (USC) 6-3, 6-4
2. #16 Yannick Hanfmann (USC) def. Chris Diaz (OSU) 6-5 (7-4), 6-3
3. Roberto Quiroz (USC) vs. Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 6-2, 4-5, unfinished
4. Ralf Steinbach (OSU) def. Connor Farren (USC) 6-5 (7-4), 6-4
5. Max De Vroome (USC) vs. Kevin Metka (OSU) 6-5 (7-5), 5-4, unfinished
6. Hunter Callahan (OSU) def. #47 Johnny Wang (USC) 6-3, 6-4
1. #2 Peter Kobelt/Kevin Metka (OSU) def. #35 Ray Sarmiento/Yannick Hanfmann (USC) 6-4
2. Roberto Quiroz/Connor Farren (USC) vs. Herkko Pollanen/Hunter Callahan (OSU) 5-3, unfinished
3. Ralf Steinbach/Chris Diaz (OSU) def. Eric Johnson/Max De Vroome (USC) 6-4
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (6,2,1,4)