UB men’s tennis drops first-ever NCAA Tournament match
Buffalo fails to win a set in dominating Ohio State victory
When the men’s tennis team drew the No. 11 team in the country, Ohio State, in the first round of its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, head coach Lee Nickell and multiple players admitted it was going to be a tough match to play.
They were right.
The Bulls (12-11, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) fell 4-0 to Ohio State (27-8, 10-1 Big Ten) in the Stickney Family Varsity Tennis Courts in Columbus, Ohio on Friday. Buffalo did not win a set and Ohio State outscored Buffalo 23-6 in doubles points. The Buckeyes have since advanced to the Round of 16 after defeating Vanderbilt (20-8, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) 4-0 on Saturday.
“Going into this match, we knew what we were gonna face,” Nickell said. “Ohio State’s a perennial top-10 team. They’re No. 11 right now and we know that their level is just a step ahead of ours.”
Buffalo fell behind 1-0 after Ohio State dominated the doubles matches.
Ohio State’s senior Kevin Metka and sophomore Herkko Pollanen defeated Buffalo sophomore Jonathan Hannestad and junior Sergio Arevalillo 8-3 in first doubles.
Buckeyes freshman Mikael Torpegaard, the No. 55-ranked player in the country, and senior Hunter Callahan defeated the Buffalo duo of juniors Amar Hromic and Pablo Alvarez 8-1 in the No. 2 doubles match. Ohio State began the match on a 6-0 run before Buffalo grabbed a point entering the seventh game in the set.
Three of the six singles matches were called off early as Ohio State clinched the victory when the No. 50 player in the country, junior Chis Diaz, defeated Alvarez 6-2, 6-1 in second singles. Torpegaard defeated senior Damien David 6-0, 6-2 at first singles, and Ohio State freshman Matt Mendez defeated Arevalillo 6-3, 6-0.
Nickell did not expect a different outcome, but still praised his team’s competitiveness during the match.
“My expectation was for us to go out there and do exactly what we did – to fight and let the chips fall where they may,” Nickell said. “I’m certainly proud of the way the guys fought. [Ohio State] was just a little bit better than us.”
The Bulls clinched their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the program’s first-ever MAC Championship on April 25 against Binghamton (8-16, 3-2 MAC). The Bulls return all but two players next season, and will have four incoming seniors. Nickell expects the team to be better than this year and potentially be able to challenge perennial teams such as Ohio State in the near future.
“We’ve always expected this and this has always been our goal,” Nickell said. “We have a very good base of players coming back that understand that when we come to Ohio State, or we go to all these top 20 teams that we play, and we watch them practice the way that they practice is just a little bit more intense than the way that we do.
Nickell said he is confident heading into the offseason with the personnel on the team, but expects them to be more “intense” during offseason workouts and in the 2016 season.
“Going into next year, we are steadfast in the process of being intense from the first day of the fall to the last day of the spring,” Nickell said.
Michael Akelson is a sports staff writer. The sports desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org