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Monday, February 18, 2019

Ohio State Holds Off Defending Champion Wake Forest to Win ITA D-I Men's Team Indoor Championships; Martin Wins Grade 4 in Mexico; 25 Americans Competing in Porto Alegre Brazil's ITF Grade A

Ohio State's JJ Wolf
photo courtesy Scott Gerber, OhioTennisZone.com
The doubles point Ohio State won in a tiebreaker didn't look particularly significant when the Buckeyes won four first sets in singles against defending champion and No. 3 seed Wake Forest at the ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor Championships today in Chicago.

But when Martin Joyce closed out top-seeded Ohio State's 4-2 victory with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Wake's Melios Efstathiou at line 4, a huge sigh of relief was almost audible at the Midtown Athletic Club, with the doubles point having given the Buckeyes a bit of breathing room that they ended up appreciating.

For the second match in a row, Ohio State won the doubles point when the other team was serving for it, and both times it was John McNally and Hunter Tubert at line 3 that mounted the comebacks.  Against Wake Forest's Siddhant Banthia and Julian Zlobinsky, McNally and Tubert saved two match points on deciding points serving at 3-5 and receiving at 5-4, and in the tiebreaker that decided the doubles point, came from 3-2 down to win the final five points of the match.

Ohio State, who had not lost a point in their previous three wins this weekend, began the singles confidently, taking four first sets in singles. JJ Wolf, who won the Columbus Challenger last month, has continued to play pro-level tennis in dual match season, and he quickly closed out Wake Forest's Borna Gojo 6-0, 6-3 to extend the lead to 2-0.

At that stage, Ohio State looked to be in great shape to grab its second National Team Indoor title, with McNally up a set and a break over Petros Chrysochos at line 2, Alex Kobelt up a set a and a break over Yuval Solomon at line 5 and Joyce securing his first set.

Kobelt quickly closed out his win for the Buckeyes third point, and again Wake looked down and out, but the Demon Deacons had been in jeopardy throughout the weekend, so they were plenty comfortable playing from behind.  When Tubert earned a split against Banthia at line 6, both McNally and Joyce were both just two games from another shutout for the Buckeyes, but Wake Forest was not about to concede.

Bar Botzer closed out his 6-2, 6-3 win over Kyle Seelig at line 3 to make it 3-1, just as McNally lost his break in the second set.  Tubert was up 3-1 in the third at line 6, but Joyce lost his break, and when Banthia won his fifth straight game to make it 3-2, a miracle comeback seemed possible for Wake.  Just as Chrysochos won a tiebreaker to send his match with McNally to a third set, Joyce got a break at 5-all and had an opportunity to serve for the match. The senior from Illinois continued to play his aggressive indoor game despite falling behind 15-30 and he calmly closed out the title, leaving the most exuberant celebrations to his teammates.

Four of the six Buckeyes playing singles today had played in the NCAA final last year against Wake Forest, with the Demon Deacons winning that by the same score that Ohio State posted today. Three of the six Americans in the Ohio State lineup are from Ohio and five are from the Midwest section, a rare team composition with the current trend toward international players in Division I tennis.

For more on today's final, see the Tennis Recruiting Network's recap, College Tennis Today's recap, and the Ohio State website recap.

#2 Ohio State 4, #1 Wake Forest 2
Singles competition
1. #2 JJ Wolf (OSU) def. Bona Gojo (WF) 6-0, 6-3
2. #62 John McNally (OSU) vs. #1 Petros Chrysochos (WF) 6-4, 6-7(4), unfinished
3. #21 Bar Botzer (WF) def. #12 Kyle Seelig (OSU) 6-2, 6-3
4. Martin Joyce (OSU) def. #49 Melios Efstathiou (WF) 7-5, 7-5
5. #86 Alex Kobelt (OSU) def. Yuval Solomon (WF) 6-3, 6-3
6. Siddhant Banthia (WF) def. Hunter Tubert (OSU) 6-2, 2-6, 6-3
Order of finish: 1,5,3,6,4

Doubles competition
1. Bona Gojo/Alan Gadjiev (WF) def. JJ Wolf/Martin Joyce (OSU) 6-3
2. #7 Kyle Seelig/Alex Kobelt (OSU) def. Petros Chrysochos/Bar Botzer (WF) 6-1
3. Hunter Tubert/John McNally (OSU) def. Siddhant Banthia/Julian Zlobinsky (WF) 7-6(3)
Order of finish: 2,1,3
At the ITF Grade 4 in Mexico, 17-year-old Georgia Tech recruit Andres Martin took the singles title, his first on the ITF Junior Circuit.  The top seed defeated No. 16 seed Marcus McDaniel 6-3, 7-6(4) in the all-US final, claiming all six of his victories in straight sets. McDaniel and his partner Max McKennon, the No. 2 seeds, won the doubles title, beating Martin and his partner Jeffrey Fradkin, the top seeds, 6-3, 7-6(3) in the final.

The second ITF Grade A of the year is underway in Porto Alegre Brazil, with 15 US girls and 10 US boys in the singles draws. The first round of singles play began today, and four Americans(noted with asterisks) have already been eliminated, but here are those that made the main draw:
Hina Inoue
Tara Malik*
Ellie Coleman
Hurricane Tyra Black[3]
Kailey Evans
Hibah Shaikh
Jaedan Brown*
Charlotte Chavatipon[7]
Sasha Yepifanova
Rosie Garcia Gross[Q]
Madison Sieg*
Charlotte Owensby
Rebecca Lynn[Q]
Alexa Noel[2]

Toby Kodat[13]
Blaise Bicknell
Andrew Dale
Eliot Spizzirri[4]*
Will Grant
Tyler Zink[6]
Adam Neff
Dali Blanch
Martin Damm
Alexander Kiefer

*lost 1st round