COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 5 Ohio State (18-2, 3-0 Big Ten) defeated No. 10 Illinois (10-7, 2-1 Big Ten) 7-0 Sunday in a meeting of the Big Ten’s two highest ranked teams at the Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill. The win by the Buckeyes was their 69th consecutive conference victory, dating back to 2004.
Redshirt-sophomore Devin McCarthy handed Bruno Abdelnour a 6-4, 6-4 defeat at No. 6 singles to earn the match-clinching fourth point for the five-time defending Big Ten champions. McCarthy improves to 20-3 overall and 15-1 in dual play with the win.
The contest was the fourth of seven consecutive road matches for the Buckeyes as well as the fourth of nine in a row in which the Scarlet and Gray has faced an opponent ranked in the ITA Top 75.
Ohio State is now 12-2 vs. ranked teams on the season, including an 8-2 mark vs. ITA Top 25 opponents. The team also moves to 11-0 as the No. 5 ranked squad in the country. The Buckeyes are 5-1 on the road this season, having now won 52 out of their last 53 road contests, a streak that began in 2005-06.
The Buckeyes are 38-54-1 all-time against the Illini. However, since 2005, Ohio State has won 11 of 12 against Illinois, including the previous eight matchups. Ohio State head coach Ty Tucker improved his overall mark to 13-9 vs. the Illini.
Ohio State emerged with the doubles point despite the Illini claiming the first match of the afternoon at No. 2. Junior Chase Buchanan and senior co-captain Shuhei Uzawa suffered their first doubles defeat of the season, falling to Stephen Hoh and Abe Souza, 8-3.
Buckeyes Matt Allare and Peter Kobelt, the 14th ranked duo in the nation, would answer with an 8-5 win over Brian Alden and Johnny Hamui. Allare and Kobelt move to 8-1 when playing at the No. 1 spot and 17-5 overall as a tandem.
Senior co-captain Balazs Novak and freshman Blaz Rola moved to 4-0 on the season as a team, defeating Dennis Nevolo and Roy Kalmanovich, 8-3, at the No. 3 position to complete the Buckeye rally.
Singles competition began with No. 43 Allare giving the Buckeyes a 2-0 advantage after downing No. 64 Souza in straight-sets 6-3, 6-2. Allare improves to 22-3 overall and 13-1 in dual competition. The Mason, Ohio, native moves to 10-0 at the No. 4 position.
Novak captured a 6-2, 6-2 win over Hoh to give him his 20th singles triumph en route to moving to 10-0 at No. 5. Novak stands at 20-4 overall and 16-2 in dual action.
Freshman Ille Van Engelen downed No. 78 Hamui in straight sets 6-2, 7-6 at No. 3. With the win, Van Engelen moves to 11-5 in his rookie campaign.
Buchanan and Rola rounded out singles play with come-from-behind wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, respectively. Buchanan, the 19th player nationally, upset No. 7 Nevolo 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 after losing the opening set. Rola also narrowly fell in the opening set, but came back to win 6-7, 6-2, 7-6 against Kalmanovich. Buchanan picked up his 20th singles victory on the season and moves to 9-1 at No. 1. Rola, the Big Ten Athlete of the Week March 22, moves to an impressive team-high 27-3 overall, including a 14-1 dual mark. He is 9-0 when playing at the No. 2 position.
So far in 2011, Ohio State is 96-14 in dual play. The match between the Big Ten rivals featured eight ranked individual players.
Earlier this afternoon, the Ohio State women’s tennis team also defeated Illinois. They rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Illini 4-3 at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center.
The Buckeyes will go for their 70th-consecutive Big Ten road win when they travel to Evanston, Ill., April 2 for a 1 p.m. ET matchup at Northwestern.