COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Led by senior Peter Kobelt, a native of New Albany, Ohio, No. 2 Ohio State rewrote history on Friday night with a 4-3 victory against No. 28 Northwestern at the Varsity Tennis Center. The Buckeyes (20-2, 6-0 B1G) won their 185th consecutive home match, breaking the NCAA record set by Stanford women’s tennis team from 1999-2011. Guided by director of tennis and head coach Ty Tucker, who claimed his 415th career win, Ohio State won the doubles point and three singles matches to secure the win against the Wildcats (12-9, 1-4 B1G).
“To be able to win 185 matches in a row at home says a lot about the quality of the mindset of the 11 years of student-athletes that we’ve had at Ohio State,” Tucker said. “They don’t take anything for granted. They got up this morning, they put in the practice and they want to win in a bad way. They’re well coached as far as knowing that everybody is coming in here to give it their best shot. Nobody wants to lay down for the Buckeyes.”
No. 8 Kobelt clinched the match for the Buckeyes and won his ninth consecutive match, improving his season record to 21-5. Kobelt used a late break to defeat No. 37 Raleigh Smith 6-1, 7-5 to clinch match point. He brings his dual match record to 14-1 and is now 11-5 against ranked opponents.
“There was a moment where I thought to myself that the match was going to come down to me,” Kobelt said. “I definitely had some moments in the set where I was playing pretty tight, but I knew I had to keep my composure. It’s a great feeling to be a part of something so special.”
In doubles action, redshirt junior Hunter Callahan and freshman Ralf Steinbach struck first and defeated Mihir Kumar and Konrad Zieba 8-6 on court No. 2. The No. 6 duo of Kobelt and redshirt junior Kevin Metka clinched the doubles point with an 8-7 (7-2) victory against Sam Shropshire and Raleigh Smith on court No. 1. On court No. 3, redshirt sophomore Chris Diaz and freshman Herkko Pollanen lead Fedor Baev and Strong Kirchheimer 7-6 when play was suspended.
Ahead 1-0 heading into singles play, Ohio State and Northwestern each took three first sets. No. 109 Metka, playing his first match as a ranked singles player, defeated Kumar 6-3, 6-3 to put the Buckeyes up 2-0. Steinbach downed Alex Pasareanu on court No. 6 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) to extend the Ohio State lead to 3-0. The Wildcats took the next two matches, first on court No. 5 with Kirchheimer defeating No. 97 Callahan 6-3, 6-3 and then No. 113 Shropshire downing Pollanen 6-2, 6-4. In the final match of the day, Diaz fell in a 7-5, 7-5 battle on court No. 3.
“You know it hasn’t sunk in, obviously,” Tucker said. “It’s like when you’re an All-American. As a kid you think ‘Oh wow I’m an All-American’ but you don’t really know what it means until you’re 35 years old and every time you get introduced somebody says ‘Hey he’s an All-American.’ It hasn’t sunk in. We just have to find a way to get a little bit better [still] with Illinois coming on Sunday. We got to be ready to win a tough match for the Big Ten lead.”
Ohio State now looks toward a top 10 matchup against the No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday in Columbus. The regular season and B1G Championship have been won by Ohio State or the Illini every season since 1997. Buckeyes trail Illinois 42-55-1 in their all-time head-to-head, but they have claimed 16 of the previous 18 meetings. Tucker holds a 17-9 record against the Illini, including two victories last season, a 4-3 win in Champaign and a 4-0 win in Columbus during the B1G Tournament.