The Intercollegiate Tennis Association Tournament kicked off Saturday, and No. 2 Ohio State found plenty of success throughout the weekend.
The Buckeyes defeated UCF on the first day of the tournament Saturday and Oregon Sunday.
Posting 4-0 victories on back-to-back days, the Buckeyes advanced to the ITA Men’s National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago for the 16th time in program history, which will take place Feb. 17-20.
The first matches of the tournament consisted of three sets of doubles against UCF, with redshirt seniors Andrew Lutschaunig (5-1) and James Trotter (6-0) going up against seniors Bogdan Pavel and Lleyton Cronje of the Knights.
Seniors Robert Cash (3-0) and Justin Boulais (4-1) matched up against Knights’ freshmen Liam Branger and Paul Colin. Senior Cannon Kingsley (3-2) and No. 5 junior JJ Tracy (12-4) faced the Knights freshman duo Mehdi Benchakroun and Yassine Dlimi in the last set of doubles.
The Buckeyes got off to a hot start, winning 11 of the first 15 duals against UCF and ultimately sweeping the Knights in the first round of the tournament, propelling the Buckeyes to an early 1-0 overall lead.
The singles matches kicked off — featuring Boulais against Dlimi, Tracy against Cronje, Trotter against Branger, Kingsley against Pavel, freshman Alexander Bernard against Benchakroun and Cash against Colin.
As the singles matches progressed, the Buckeyes jumped out to a 4-0 lead over UCF. The only match that went to the third set was between Bernard and Benchakroun, as the other Buckeye singles competitors swept their opponents.
The Buckeyes capped off their first tournament matchup by securing a win of 4-0 over the Knights. The majority of the matches were uncontested, with the Buckeyes notching a clean sweep or securing a contested victory and adding onto their winning streak, which sat at five entering the weekend.
“In the locker room, everyone knows what we have to do,” Lutschaunig said. “We discuss the most important thing, and when everyone knows that, then we can control, and it’ll be tough to stop us.”
The first matches of the day started with sets of doubles featuring Lutschaunig and Trotter against Oregon’s senior Joshua Charlton and sophomore Quinn Vandecasteele, Cash and Boulais against senior Ivailo Keremedchiev and junior Ray Lo as well as Kingsley and Tracy against juniors Jesper Klov-Nilsson and Luke Vandecasteele.
Kingsley and Tracy were the first pair to secure a win on the day, beating Klov-Nilsson and Vandecasteele 6-3. The duo of Cash and Boulais also beat the team of Keremedchiev and Lo by a score of 7-5.
The Ducks secured a win against Trotter and Lutschaunig by a score of 7-5. The score after the first bout of doubles was 1-0 in favor of Ohio State.
The singles matches took place subsequently with Tracy winning first against Keremedchiev. The Buckeyes swept the Ducks on all of the courts in the first game, and the theme continued on into the second round of matches.
Bernard and Klov-Nilsson battled for the longest period of time, with the match continuing on while other matches were finishing up their second sets, and the former prevailed 7-5.
“It’s always good to come out of there with a win,” Tracy said. “The home crowd is always there, Buckeye Nation loves us, it’s a tough place to play in. There are 500-1,000 people up there each week. It’s a great feeling.”
The singles matches between Boulais and Charlton, Tracy and Keremedchiev and Bernard and Klov-Nilsson were all left unfinished when the day ended, as Ohio State captured a 4-0 victory.
Head coach Ty Tucker said moving on to the final field of 16 in the ITA Tournament is not easy and requires dedication and hard work from his team.
“It’s the same preparation all the time,” Tucker said. “In practice, you try to get better, hit balls with purpose and try to get a little bit better all the time.
The Buckeyes will next host Texas A&M Friday at 6 p.m.
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